Is your technology landscape able to support your business growth?
When an organisation is looking to grow, they can find themselves constrained in achieving this objective and, metaphorically speaking, scratching their head trying to ascertain why. After all, they have the right leadership team and organisational structure in place. They have a product or service there is clearly demand for. But if the obstacle to growth was so obvious in the first place, it could simply be identified and dealt with, clearing the path to success.
Let’s assume that when we talk about growth, we’re really talking about a business that wants to perform better, be more competitive and, ultimately, become highly successful. But what’s the point in growing revenues, when you are losing money through inefficiencies and your profit margins are eroded because, at the end of the day, the business is proving costly to run?
Growth as described above, is enabled by technology, through system integration, data management and analytics and insight. But for many, technology is a blind spot, resulting in businesses that are just about managing with their legacy IT software systems, implemented way back when to enable a specific business functionality, like digitising the raising of purchase orders and invoices. Things have moved on. Nowadays technology is now an enabler of growth. It can even accelerate growth.
Here’s how to identify whether your technology estate can enable your growth ambitions:
- Formulate a clear business strategy
It doesn’t have to be a 40-page PowerPoint, but it needs to articulate what the business wants to achieve. Is it about growing customers? Expanding product ranges/services? Opening up in new locations/markets, which can be in terms of growing physical and/or online presence? Is it about Increasing efficiency and reducing costs? Also, importantly, what is the timeframe for these goals?
- Capabilities analysis
Once your business strategy is clear, you need to perform some due diligence with regard to the organisation’s ability to deliver it. What’s preventing these objectives from being achieved today? What are the constraints, in other words?
Capabilities analysis identifies which capabilities your organisation has now and those it wants in future, to deliver its strategy. Often, they won’t be the same and some new capabilities will be required.
- Technology estate review
Next is mapping the technology estate to current and future capabilities. Which technologies deployed today support which existing capabilities? Furthermore, how will the existing technology estate support and enable the identified future capabilities? Will the technology estate suffice, will it be stretched, or will it be woefully inadequate at meeting the demands of those expanded capabilities in future?
- Future technology landscape
This is about identifying the next pieces of technology required to make the current capabilities more efficient, reduce costs or enable more transformational change to deliver the goals of the business strategy formulated in step one.
This step also extends to reviewing the human resources needed to deliver the future technology landscape. What skill sets will be required? Can these be developed within, or will they need to be acquired through recruitment?
Understanding their future technology landscape requirements can be eye-opening for organisations. Many businesses already have an online presence where they are selling products or services, but what if they want to access a wider base of customers or users via an online marketplace, or other online intermediary platform?
A business may discover it lacks the vital technology pieces in place to integrate with that marketplace, so needs to adapt its future technology landscape accordingly. It will also need the technology capability to be able to see whether integration with the intermediary platform is leading to increased sales – resulting in business growth. Data analytics is vital, because you cannot improve what you cannot measure.
By formulating a future technology landscape you are:
- Assessing what new business capabilities are required from the technology
- Seeing how those new technology capabilities are going to be integrated
- Identifying ancillary supporting capabilities of technologies across the whole business – integration
- How do we get there?
What is the roadmap to get to that future technology landscape? In the past, organisations would buy into whole software systems, and it would take years before the promised efficiencies enabled by the new IT system would be fully realised. In reality, teams within organisations would find themselves having to adapt to work with the software, not the other way round. The days of these types of large monolithic system implementation programmes are gone.
People prefer it when technology delivers incremental change but also incremental value over time – a future technology landscape roadmap reveals just how this is done.
The point is a future technology landscape can start being implemented tomorrow and creating value tomorrow, meaning you won’t have to wait three years to wait for technology to deliver your strategy.
Chief Executive Officer