Most successful enterprises have a strategic position that supports their ability to generate revenues. Technology visions connect the dots and allow them to establish a purpose and direction. Using a technology vision, enterprises can describe where they wish to be and set goals around specific projects. Along with a technology vision, enterprises must have a concrete information technology (IT) strategy. The latter provides a general direction of the usage of information technologies in an organization and how the role of technologies in business processes should evolve. The technology vision describes the major trends and possibilities that should be considered by an enterprise, whereas the technology strategy contains plans for achieving this vision based on concrete strategic technology and actionable steps.
Both the technology vision and the strategy must be aligned with the business strategy, take into account current and future technology trends, aim at tackling business challenges and justifying the use of technology investment budget by focusing on key business outcomes. In these ways, the vision and the strategy are fundamental to a successful digital transformation. Hence, most successful business leaders think about and take steps towards executing their technology vision and strategy. However, they must also remember that they can’t do it alone. Their knowledge of their organization is often limited to only what they directly control and see. This creates blind spots that prevent these executives from seeing the entire landscape of technology solutions in their enterprise, or the gaps between individual solutions, which can lead to functional gaps in the technology strategy overall. Hence, when formulating their technology vision and strategy they must take a broader view of the technological landscape. Moreover, they need to consider other best practices about the establishment of a proper vision and strategy as part of their strategic management activities.
A technology vision should provide a path (road map) to achieve the business vision of an enterprise. It must articulate how it aligns to both short-term and long-term goals of the enterprise and how it addresses existing limitations. Moreover, it should align with the overall corporate business strategy, be flexible and allow for change. Having an effective technology vision and strategy is essential in order to create a competitive advantage. But there are many different aspects to consider for any organization when it comes to leveraging technology in the long term. The technology vision formulation is not just about creating a concise, compelling statement that everyone can buy into. Rather, the strategy for achieving that vision also needs to be well-defined, with clear objectives and a detailed roadmap for success. The first step is defining what your organization wants from its tech investments over time, which can be difficult given all the competing priorities at play today.
A good technology vision should be short, concise and aligned to the overall business strategy. Here are some key questions to ask yourself before crafting your own:
-What do we want our customers/users experience with our products or services?
-What technologies will enable these experiences?
-What kinds of people will need access in order to make this happen?
-How do we want people interacting with our business?
The technology vision is an important tool to communicate the company’s needs and goals in relation to technology. Therefore, the vision must also be sufficiently clear so that all stakeholders understand it and can determine whether it is being achieved. It should be possible for anyone in the organization to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether each initiative supports the company’s vision. As already outlined, an effective technology vision must be short, concise, and aligned to the technology strategy. It should describe the use of technology within a given time frame (e.g., two years) and articulate how the technology will contribute to the organization’s overall business objectives.
Sometimes companies make the mistake of presenting a technology vision simply as a series of goals or even as a list of projects. Instead, they must describe what the company wants to do with its investments in technology: from enabling new products and processes to increasing productivity, reducing costs, or other objectives that drive revenue growth and improve profitability. Rather than presenting solutions or approaches, the vision statement should focus on outcomes, including what success will look like at a point in the future. For example, an organization may have a vision of growth through geographic expansion or a new product line. The vision may include an expectation of better performance (e.g., improved customer experience), faster time-to-market, and increased customer satisfaction.
The technology strategy of a company specifies its main technological activities. It also positions its technology activities against activities of competitors. The first step undertaken by strategy consultants towards creating a coherent IT strategy is to evaluate your business goals and determine whether they are measurable and achievable. The evaluation process should include identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) of your business. Consider your financial resources and existing infrastructure before setting a goal for improvement.
A second step is to define the mission statement for your company. This includes defining what it will do in the future that it cannot do now. For example, you can aim at improving your competitive advantage by providing superior customer service using online tools such as live chat sessions with customers. Identifying performance metrics helps you determine whether you have achieved your goals, e.g., response time to customers’ queries can be measured in seconds for live chat sessions, emails or phone calls. Accordingly, the long-term objectives of the firm must be translated in concrete investments. These investments should enable the firm to gain a competitive advantage. In-line with what we stated earlier, the technology strategy is part of the corporate strategy and must fit into the business environment.
Other steps and activities that help in the formulation of a technology strategy include:
IT strategy consultants and other organizational leaders who may be called on to set a vision and strategic direction for their enterprise’s use of technology should remember that the end goal of this type of planning is to help their organizations achieve its mission. With this in mind, it’s critical that leaders spend time getting to know what their organizations do, what their customers need and value, and the technologies that are available to meet those needs, while also considering those that aren’t yet available, but might be in the future.
In conclusion, to create a strategy and vision, start with the organization’s mission statement; add in core values of the organization; determine where technology can help advance the mission and how it will be put into action; repeat for each aspect of the organization; once created, share it with internal and external stakeholders to validate. As soon as the strategy is established, make sure that you create the structures and mechanisms needed to monitor its implementation, assess its status and ensure its continuous adaptation and improvement.
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