If we are to believe in the forecasts put out by Gartner there is a technology tidal wave about to hit us. All hands on deck? Or will things not be as bad as that?
The truth is somewhere in the middle. The IT model is effectively changing at top speed. Cloud computing has now really been adopted, including in Belgium and new (mobile) applications are bursting out of the ground like mushrooms. IT is becoming increasingly complex and the risks of downtime, loss of data and cybercrime are unmistakably greater than ever. So putting your head beneath the surface and thinking that the coming wave will pass us by is not a strategy to adopt. But there is also no reason to panic: every organisation can prepare to bend new technology challenges into opportunities.
You probably also feel that the pressure of IT is growing on your organisation. Are you ready to absorb that pressure? As a midsized company, you can use the step-by-step plan below in any scenario as a guide or checklist in order to prepare your organisation for the technological shift.
Step 1: Link IT to your strategic objectives
If you take the right approach, IT can offer a great deal of added value: lower costs, more efficiency, shorter time-to-market, etc. To sum up, it gives you a competitive advantage. So make a start by linking your IT to your business objectives. This can be done in its simplest form by answering the following question: “Can we use IT better to achieve our business objectives faster or more easily?” Take advice from a dependable partner who is separate from bits & bytes and together build a bridge to your business.
Step 2: Link your aims to projects as part of a plan
Once you have forged a strong connection between IT and business, link your practical objectives to actual projects. One example: improve your service by enabling your employees to be more mobile in their work. Or: increase your customer satisfaction by ensuring that your systems are available at all times. Or again: boost your operating efficiency by introducing a new software application. Make a timetable of your projects using short-term and long-term planning.
Step 3: Make changes to your organisation where necessary
Take a look to see what expertise you have in-house for developing your projects and release your own people to focus on the applications, processes and projects that are critical for your organisation. Where necessary, you can take the pressure off your IT department by outsourcing some tasks to specialist providers, such as end-user support or certain IT management tasks. It is impossible for you to bring in – and retain – all of the expertise you need on your payroll.
Step 4: Optimise your systems
Building a house on poor foundations is never a good plan. So make sure first that the base – your IT network and infrastructure – is able to support your strategic projects. Now and into the future. Think about what infrastructure you still want to purchase/manage and areas where the cloud or a managed model might be a better solution. Once you have your foundation, you can get to work on your strategic IT applications and projects. When developing your IT environment, consider not only external parties (such as customers), but also the specific needs of your own people.
Step 5: Manage your IT proactively
In order to genuinely future-proof your IT, as well as capitalise cleverly as changes occur – so that you can outfox the tidal wave – the key is to manage your IT proactively. If you have not done so already, get rid of the model of ‘break-fix’ or putting out fires. Prevent IT problems through proactive monitoring and automating your maintenance tasks. That way you’re not always playing catch-up and you can gauge the progress of strategic projects against the maturity of the IT environment. Then you can shift gear and make adjustments if you have to.
In some companies, IT is seen as a necessary evil – something that has to be endured or just needs to be done. For those companies, a technology tidal wave may do them a great deal of harm. But for companies that take IT to a strategic level, this tidal wave may provide them with an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
You can find out more about how managed and cloud services can protect you from a technological washout by reading more here.