Developing an IT Strategy

As an IT leader you need to set a clear and compelling vision, make sure it’s business-friendly, backed by sensible financials and explains clearly how you will achieve it.

According to Info-Tech research, only 50% of business leaders are satisfied with IT core services and less than 40% are satisfied with IT’s ability to deliver solutions that meet business capability needs. A well constructed strategy and roadmap can help improve these levels; the same research shows that business stakeholders are 3.5 times more likely to be highly satisfied with IT if there is an effective IT strategy in place.

Some of these findings can be attributed to the CIO’s inability to:

  • Effectively manage stakeholder relationships.
  • Understand the capability needs of business partners.
  • Enable innovation to help business stakeholders capitalize on technology opportunities.

Info-Tech’s IT strategy development framework draws on COBIT5 and TOGAF to help you through specific steps. You can deselect depending on  your specific needs but your aim is to become an innovative business transformation partner (level 1 below). CIOs are finding it increasingly harder to earn and retain their seat at the executive  table so the  first step is to spend time with your business and ask them at what level they see  you operating presently and then to develop a strategy that improves your position.

  1. Innovator – Transforms the Business
  2. Business Partner – Expands the Business
  3. Trusted Operator – Optimizes the Business
  4. Firefighter – Supports the Business
  5. Unstable – Struggles to Support

Develop a data-driven, fit-for-purpose IT strategy with a strong link to execution. 

Alex Zverintsev, Director, CIO Advisory, Info-Tech Research Group

Business colleagues are driven by regular financial cycles and their objectives are clearly defined in targets, often these are publicly shared on earnings calls for investors and shareholders. IT should also develop a discipline of regularly reviewing targets and investment plans, simply expecting money to keep coming in is short-sighted. Last year the big four banks in South Africa spent a combined total of $2.4Bn on IT; as an increasingly digital service industry the entire operation of these companies is largely dependent on IT. Strategic objectives of tech-enabled enterprises are often themselves various large scale IT projects which are well documented and shared but according to the research above, this purse is not being well managed by the custodians of those technology assets.

Producing an IT strategy document using Info-Tech’s 8 step framework will help change this perception. Embedding it as a fundamental  and living reference that drives strategic IT management will start to earn you the credibility that us IT leaders desperately need.

IT should also develop a discipline of regularly reviewing targets and investment plans

It’s also useful to reduce your IT strategy to a few simple statements that are well communicated throughout your workforce as a drumbeat of constant focus. IT is highly complex and requires professionals to build and manage it, don’t over-engineer what should be a clear and concise statement of intent and plan to achieve key objectives.

Nearly 50% of C-level executives feel their business goals are going unsupported by technology — be the IT leader that gets your C-suite into the other 50%

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