A Digital and Technology Strategy for Today’s Challenges
During the pandemic we have seen an acceleration in Digital and Technology like never before. At the start of the pandemic, IT strategies got ripped up, or put on hold while prioritising the work required for business survival.
It was a time to be tactical, not strategic.
Thankfully most organisations are through the worst, many emerging stronger and leaner, but now it’s time to refocus on the longer-term goals. However, a few things have changed in those 18 months that can’t be ignored anymore and four key themes emerge.
Digital first is now the reality. Any organisation that thought they could just tag digital on as an afterthought had a rude awakening. Retailers have led the way with omnichannel approaches to ensure survival and growth, and now all businesses must operate in this way. How you keep customers engaged and buying from you needs to be the number one priority in every digital and technology leaders mind.
Remote working is no longer a nice to have. Remote working used to be the privilege of senior managers, or the occasional loan laptop for staff of many office based organisations. Now everyone is a consultant, who needs to be able to work from anywhere. Technology has to enable this accessibility for everyone.
Information and cyber security used to be an afterthought. A few years ago businesses could hide behind their corporate firewalls, but with the new connected world that’s now impossible. Everything is accessible from everywhere – as it should be. But that means tighter security in other areas and trusting and engaging employees like never before. Information and cyber security should be both the very first and the very last thought.
Digital and technology is now seen as a driver and enabler. IT was always a back-room operation for many organisations. Not anymore. Anything that enters and leaves an organisation is touched in someway by technology. This is the opportunity for digital and technology leaders and their team to step up providing creativity and most importantly delivery.
Technology Focus Areas
But, those four themes will only be achievable if digital and technology leaders and functions can focus on some key areas. Key areas they have to get right, and that need to be part of every strategy and every thought and action.
All the investment in digital and technology requires a return. And smart investment in technology – that could be software development, a SaaS based solution, the cloud, or even physical infrastructure and hardware must provide a return of some kind. A lot of the return will come from automation, taking away routine tasks completed by technical teams or most likely business teams. Enabling greater profits, or reducing costs through head-count reduction or redeployment to focus on revenue generating opportunities.
If you can’t automate something with the technology, then why are you doing it?
Many businesses have invested in technology over the pandemic to keep the business working. And many of these investments will have only added to the technical debt. Reducing the complexity of technology is key. Consolidation is critical to:
- reduce costs
- reduce failure
- improve security
- deliver more streamlined business processes
Simplification is often over looked when a business just wants to do more, and the technical team only want to focus on new things.
A strategy should about new technology, but it must also address consolidation and removing legacy platforms.
Cloud and SaaS
Virtualisation enabled the cloud to take place. The ability to scale up and down on demand, and more importantly not have physical hardware being the limiting factor. When you take away the physical you can have things anywhere, and that is another huge benefits of the cloud – portability/mobility. The ability for business to be flexible, to adapt to the ever changing circumstances of scale and location.
SaaS is another key to any strategy. With SaaS you are taking away the complexity of managing the more technical and complex aspects of a solution, whilst still retaining the functionality and scalability of cloud technology.
Utilising cloud and SaaS solutions enables flexibility, scalability and simplicity – and it has a huge benefit to enable a business to be portable, and employees mobile and agile.
Over the years business have collected so much data they often don’t know what to do with it. Locked away in systems and databases, and at the same time new systems and databases being created all the time. Bringing data together in a business can enable untapped revenue opportunities, increasing customer retention and reducing losses. Opening up access to data though APIs, standardising data models, and serving data to the business will transform decision making and challenge legacy thinking and beliefs.
Maximising and joining the data sets will transform how platforms interact and perform, and increase customer satisfaction and deliver new revenue streams and grow profit margins.
The Strategy Is The Future
Your own strategy will, of course be unique, but without direction and focus you will circle around the same issues again and again, and the business will constantly ask digital and technology what it is doing to enable the business to meet the corporate objectives.
A strategy demonstrates leadership and initiative – it is about keeping ahead of the competition, securing investment in technology, and continuing to ensure your organisations future success.