Your Business is Run on IT, Don’t Let It Be an Afterthought
Take a moment to make an instant, snap-decision on how important IT is to your organisation. Don’t think about it, just answer. Is it:
- A key part of operations?
- Just helpful but not thought of as important?
- A necessary evil?
- Not relevant
If you answered 1 or 2, then great. If not, perhaps this blog will convince you otherwise. In it I will explore the growing importance of technology to modern businesses. All businesses.
“Every company is now a technology company.” Really?
There’s a famous quote that “every company is now a software company” but “every company is now a technology company” is more accurate. While software plays an important part in most businesses’ operations these days, both software delivery models (SaaS and On Premise) and data (we all need data!) also play an important role in making companies tick, and providing them with viable products/services and, for some, a competitive advantage.
You could be forgiven for not considering your business technology as critical because:
- IT might be seen as the aforementioned “necessary evil” – it’s something that’s needed to do business in 2017 but it’s not part of your company’s core business and thus not a core capability.
- IT is always reactive rather than proactive – with changes driven by technological innovations or business needs, rather than the technology itself helping to drive business innovation.
- The company’s IT team (or organisation) has struggled – or completely neglected – to articulate the business value it, and technology, deliver.
Understanding the business value of IT
Many organisations, no matter their size, struggle with this issue – it’s hard to quantify the business value of IT. It’s hard to assign a proportion of business revenues and profits that can be directly attributed to the quality of IT, or IT services, within your company. The caveat - of course - being the companies that are selling products and services visibly created from technology and data.
If it seems that technology offers little value to your business, then there’s a need to either:
- Ensure that IT spending is commensurate with the business impact it makes, or
- Understand how to get greater value from your organisation’s investment in IT.
Hopefully, that second bullet has you thinking – your company doesn’t just spend money on IT, it invests in IT. And even if technology is thought to deliver significant value to the business – there’s still a need, and opportunity, to realise a greater return on investment (ROI) from that IT spend.
What you need to do
As this is a blog the limited word count means that these are very broad brushstrokes. Hopefully, though, they’ll be the start of a process to ensure your company gets more out of its investment in IT:
- Assess the true value of IT to your business. There’s a need to understand how business operations, and critical business services, are enabled by IT. Some aspects might be obvious, but others will be less so (such as how your customers are impacted if one of your Customer Account Managers cannot access their email). Importantly, if you can’t do this yourself, then bring in a third party that can help, and quickly.
- Ascertain the business value of individual IT services. This needs to be part quantitative and part qualitative – as numerical aspects such as high costs and user volumes might distract you from the real value drivers. For instance, your most valuable IT service might be relatively low cost and used by just a few people and, when not taking a value-perspective, the IT service could easily be considered insignificant (and thus receive little attention and future investment). This could be anything from access to a small project management system, or the ability to order new business cards via your IT Support software.
- Assess your technology-related risks. And not just what’s in vogue related to information or cyber security – ascertain where a technology-related failure would cripple your business operations (and potentially your business as a whole).
- Look ahead to how critical IT and business services could or will need to change. Whether it be technology that enables high revenue products/services, or technology that provides a competitive differentiator/advantage, IT needs and deserves to be managed as more than an afterthought.
- Include all of the above into a “doable” digital transformation strategy. “Digital transformation” might seem an overused management buzz-phrase right now, but it’s not something to be ignored. Importantly, it’s not just about spending more on technology, instead it’s about better business, and business outcomes, through the better use of technology and data. From improving customer engagement and touchpoints, bringing new technology - and data-enabled products and services to market, to improving inefficient and manually-intensive back-office operations. There’s ultimately a need to change your mindset on the criticality of technology to business success, and to create an IT roadmap that takes your company – via a proven methodology – to where it needs to be.
Ultimately, you need to understand the value of IT, and then start to exploit the opportunities and advantages it can bring – it’s definitely time to stop IT being an afterthought.
Don’t have the resources to build a strategic IT and business plan in-house? Perhaps our services could be of benefit to you. Get in touch.