Information technology is a vital part of every organization. As the world of work grows increasingly digital, IT has become one of the fundamental elements of every business, and crucial to the success of an enterprise.
Despite its increasingly central role, at a boardroom level IT often remains an afterthought. While departments like marketing and sales are discussed and strategized at the highest levels, IT is still seen far too often as infrastructure and something that will just deal with itself.
The reality however is quite different. Innovation and technology are changing and evolving rapidly, with huge impacts and consequences for business. With funding challenges and conflicting priorities, it is vital for well-run organizations to have an effective plan or roadmap to follow when it comes to IT.
IT now is so much more than just keeping the computers working. Good IT is a part of every single department and aspect of a business, from remote working tools and developing leads online to communication and collaboration, internally and externally. Innovations like AI and machine learning have the potential to change the way organizations operate from the ground up, and without an effective strategy to manage change and implementation, businesses are at risk of falling behind.
Good strategic planning has huge benefits for every aspect of a business, and there’s nothing different about IT strategy. Not only does an effective strategy save time when it comes to execution of projects, it also can provide a far greater return on investment. This is hugely important when it comes to spending money on new technologies, as well as justifying further investment in (usually) underfunded IT departments.
Good strategic planning allows you to effectively prioritize your projects and makes tight budgets go further. With three or five year plans an organization can work out when and where to spend money most effectively, and what is going to have the most benefit for the business overall.
Good IT strategic planning begins with an informed boardroom and an overall business strategy that integrates IT into its thinking. IT leaders in an organization need to have an input into overall strategy and direction, and be involved in planning from the very beginning. Given that the majority of the levers and methods of business change are these days related to IT, making decisions about where you want to be in three or five years time without reference to IT is clearly a mistake. Growing and developing a business in today’s digital world requires growth and development in an organization’s IT structures and processes, and therefore a solid strategy for IT is also essential.
One tricky element of strategic IT planning is the inherent flexibility and changeability of technology itself. Innovation and disruption is a fundamental part of IT, and the status quo can change almost overnight. While this does present challenges, it also reinforces why a strong IT strategy is so important. With a well-planned, effective IT strategy in place that, crucially, allows for flexibility and change, new developments in tech won’t come as a shock, and will only have a positive impact on the company. Building in ‘innovation preparedness’ is a key element of the IT strategic planning process, and will leave your business far more able to respond to shifts and developments in the sector than it otherwise would be.
IT has become a fundamental part of how business operates, and will only continue to grow in importance as companies explore remote working, cloud computing, and AI in further detail. As a central part of almost any business’s success and basic functionality, it deserves careful, strategic consideration, and a place at the top table.