In many ways, the development of new tech and the constant, shifting trends in the modern workplace have upended the traditional status quo. Standard rules of business these days are often outdated, superseded by the latest technology, and are often discarded.
Multisided platforms, machine learning, the Internet of Things, Big Data, AI and crowdsourcing have undoubtedly transformed the business world, and changed the way we work in a thousand different ways.
However, all too often these shifts, and these incredible developments send entrepreneurs and managers down a dangerous path, one that discards the need for technology strategy entirely.
The focus is on experimenting, innovating and producing new products, and working out the strategy afterward. But while tech transformation has certainly changed the way we do business, and a good product that appeals to customers is vital, nothing beats a clear, focused and targeted technology strategy.
An overarching, holistic and integrated technology strategy gives businesses far greater control over their success, and a significant advantage over their competitors.
Of course, a comprehensive technology strategy is a big undertaking, and not something you can jot down on a napkin. We’re hoping to be able to lay out some of the benefits, provide a few reasons why learning more about technology strategy is important, and give a few pointers to get you started.
The big picture
Start-ups, entrepreneurs and managers can find any number of toolkits, business models and frameworks to guide and form elements of their organizations. However, part of the challenge of developing an effective technology strategy is combining these disparate elements (all of which can have immense value and be incredibly useful) to create an understanding of how they integrate and work together. A good strategy doesn’t just look at one piece of the puzzle, but the whole puzzle itself, the box, and even the person putting it all together!
One of the first and best things to do when creating an effective technology strategy is to ask yourself a few basic questions about value, essentially who, what, how and why.
Firstly, what value are you creating, and who is it for? Identifying and defining both your customers, and the problem you intend to solve, is key to forming and giving shape to a good technology strategy. The two questions inform each other, as who your customer is will shape what problems they have, what solutions they need, and will in turn be informed by what you are proposing to provide. It’s also vital to discover and define the ways your solution differs and improves on the competition.
How you intend to deliver value more or less defines the operating model for an entrepreneur or business manager. This is pretty much the most difficult question to answer, and the one that has the most impact. You’ll want to think about your product, your working practices, how they provide what you’ve initially set out – in short, choices and decisions across your entire organization.
Why is better defined as why is your idea unique? Why won’t it be duplicated? What’s the advantage your start-up, your business, has over the competition? As with all the questions above, this needs to link back to your previous answers, and compliment them.
Anyone working in tech understands that the rate of change is one of the most challenging things to keep tabs on.
This is part of the reason why many entrepreneurs and managers don’t prioritize technology strategy, reasoning that keeping up with new developments requires too much flexibility to need an overarching strategy.
But an effective technology strategy should be able to include and embrace change. Agility, flexibility, forward thinking – these are all qualities that can, and should, be enshrined in a technology strategy, and can even keep businesses ahead of the curve as a result.
Acknowledging and understanding the constant inconstants, the ever-changing nature of the modern workplace is a vital survival strategy for entrepreneurs and managers. A good strategy embraces change, allows constant development and new tech, but also is goal-orientated and prevent unnecessary or damaging distractions.
It should go without saying that a technology strategy should be fully integrated into the overall business strategy of an organization. Companies must be fully aware of when to invest, when to develop, or when to use existing platforms.
Fewer systems and more information is the watchword, so investing wisely, and finding ways to access more and better insights is key.
One of the most valuable aspects of a good technology strategy is the culture it creates. If digital innovation is at the heart of what an organization does, then everything everyone does will be towards the targeted goals. Upskilling and educating staff is a vital part of the process, of course.
An effective technology strategy provides a clear, efficient and innovative way forward, identifying targets and delivering the best outcomes in a fast-moving and energetic working environment. It is essential to truly harness the full potential of technology in business, and a vital tool for managers and entrepreneurs.