Putting digital strategy at the heart of achieving your organisational goals

It’s amazing to consider, just 29 percent[1] of IT leaders say their organisations are effective or very effective at technology strategy and planning. But that’s not surprising when viewed in the context of overall business strategy and planning. Even fewer (23%), rated their organisation as effective or very effective. This begs the question. Does ineffective technology strategy and planning suffer at the hands of poor business planning?

Greater customer expectation requires a solid organisational strategy to match. And, technology has a critical role to play here, drastically reengineering how we think about IT. If you want your customers to understand, buy and gain value from your business, you need a technology strategy to match. Increased system agility, flexibility, and scalability are essential, which drives closer alignment between IT and organisational goals.

And this is a prime opportunity for mid-sized organisations in particular. They are often regarded as more nimble and ready to adapt to change than their larger, corporate counterparts. As such, there’s a huge opportunity for IT leaders in this sector to take a lead role. Through our engagement with many mid-sized organisations in Australia, at 5G Networks, we’ve outlined five considerations to help you build a technology strategy that drives business goals to empower your digital future.

#1 Technology strategy is business strategy

Technology strategy is no longer a checklist of financial investments required or technologies to implement. It is an appraisal of the changes expected to achieve business goals. Yet, the practical implications of achieving this are far more challenging. For technology to help drive business strategy, you need a strong and effective IT leader. They should feel comfortable with not only business strategy, but can also shape and lead discussions too. They must also have a firm understanding as to what makes the business ‘tick’, and how technology can enable it and drive revenue.

For example, a business strategy could be to build brilliant customer experiences by investing in digital. First port of call for the CIO or IT Manager is to understand, evaluate and translate what that means for existing IT infrastructure. How will they enable it? Is investment required? Do they have the right skill sets and resources? Or do they need a passionate digital service provider to consult and guide them?

#2 Create the right culture and skills sets

Digital is not just about technology. It’s about culture. As part of that, a culture of calculated risk-taking and innovation are crucial towards achieving the flexibility and agility mid-sized organisations crave.

To drive innovation in this digital age of business-driven technology, you need new capabilities and skills. The roles of traditional IT have changed. Consider that 47 percent of CIOs say they need new skills to implement AI for example. Now, organisations need digitalisation officers, data scientists, analytic and AI strategists, and user experience designers to be that link into the business. Creating the rules that drive insights.

For mid-sized organisations lacking the resources to fill these gaps, a like-minded digital service provider with the passion and skills to drive this forward could be crucial to gaining these capabilities.

#3 Hope is not a strategy – Take the medium to long term view

Create a plan that establishes the correct guidelines and illustrates exactly what needs to happen ideally, during the next three years. Many mid-sized organisations create plans with a one year view. Longer term planning can be challenging. The important thing is to be flexible and adaptable, all while focused on the long-term objectives.

Taking a medium to long-term view will allow a true transformation to be planned and executed. Large-scale changes will take more time and effort than anticipated, so communicate this clearly to your people.

#4 Innovate, test, learn and adapt along the way… Often

Innovation in small pockets is about solving customer challenges in the long term. If there’s an idea or hypothesis to prove, make the pilot, test it and involve customers too where possible. And, this is where mid-sized organisations have a big advantage over their larger counterparts. With fewer layers to push through and quicker decision-making, they can bring new innovations as part of their strategy to market quicker.

Gather insights from the data that exists to understand the customer journey better and how they interact with your organisation. Close alignment to the business is essential. If you don’t understand the core challenges, the kinks and nuances in the customer journey, how can you be of value to facilitate better ways of doing things?

Focus on your customers, innovate and remove (quickly) what doesn’t work.

#5 The importance of strategy buy in – From the top down

A very important part of the process (which requires step points throughout the journey), is the engagement and communication of what you’re doing. A comprehensive plan of sharing with executive bosses, the investment community, peers and those within the IT organisation is required to bring everyone on the journey with you.

Executive support needs to be ingrained into the process from the start. If investment is required, you need to bring those involved with that on the journey too. Help them to understand the business value you’re creating. Having this level of endorsement from the top is critical, and will help you gain ground level support.

[1] Gartner’s 2017 CIO Survey