Having an IT strategy that is fully aligned with business goals is a differentiator that can lead to competitive advantages. Unfortunately, as those of you who have been involved in IT road mapping understand, it is too easy to get off track. The difficult part, is trying to identify exactly what sent you down the wrong path so it can be corrected.
When an IT project initially kicks off, there is a clear path to reach the technical goal -- and an even clearer vision on how the technology will positively impact the business. Yet somewhere along the line, things go awry and you end up with a technology that no longer aligns with the business.
Today, we're going to look at four potential signs showing where your strategy went off the tracks while chasing some of the latest technology trends. If, by chance, you read this and can relate to one or more scenarios, it may be a sign that it’s time to reassess and rework projects so they properly align with business goals.
1. Emerging technologies aren't as emerging as you thought. One of the more challenging aspects of IT is wading through all the new and emerging technologies to find the ones that hold the most promise as it relates to your company’s unique business goals. Yet, despite your seeing promise in emerging technologies that can solve specific organization challenges, they often prove that they aren’t as ready for prime time as you first thought. There are many recent examples of this where technology was hyped, but adoption rates ended up being lower than expected because the technology wasn’t fully baked. Big Data, SDN and IoT are three examples where the concepts were sound, yet the technology and tools may not have been as ready as you were.
In cases such as these, it’s important for IT architects and projects managers to be in constant communications to make sure that the goals originally outlined in the project remain feasible throughout the development and rollout of the technology. And if the end-product is expected to fall woefully short of original expectations, this might be a project that’s better off being shelved until the technology can mature.
2. Adopted the wrong development or deployment strategy. There are also situations where the technology is ready for production use, yet the blueprint to develop and/or deploy the technology is less than ideal. Signs of this include unanticipated costs, a lack of technical expertise and no true strategy when it comes to ongoing maintenance and support. In many situations, problems arise when you underestimate the capabilities of the in-house IT infrastructure, as well as the strengths of IT staff. If you’re facing any of these challenges while attempting to deploy a project in-house, it may be a sign that you need to engage with a third-party provider who can assist. This decision may end up pushing budgets upward, but it’s better than letting an important technological component of the business fail completely.
3. Little end-user interest in IT projects. One of the biggest battles an IT department can face these days is the war with shadow IT. The ease at which employees can find and use unsanctioned applications they like best is incredible. For new IT projects, it can be difficult to gain the interest of those that are happy with their current shadow IT applications. However, if you don’t engage in continuous communication with end-users and properly market the IT projects you’re working on, you may find that the adoption rate of applications will not be as expected once the project moves into production. The key is to monitor application interest and be able to spend time promoting the application to end-users.
4. The business pivoted. Finally, one of the more common, yet rarely discussed strategic missteps is when the business pivots toward new markets. In many cases, this pivot renders technologies you are pursuing irrelevant. This can be incredibly frustrating, but it’s necessary to continuously be reassessing whether technology goals are aligned with business goals. Even the slightest shift in business focus can throw an IT project off balance, or even make it completely useless. In either case, it shows you just how important the new role of the CIO is and why they must be constantly engaged in overall business strategy. A good CIO can then let the pertinent information trickle down to technical project managers who can then work to realign the technical project, or maybe make the decision to scrap it all together.