Saturday, January 7, 2017

Crafting a Digital IT Roadmap in the New Year

With a comprehensive IT roadmap, IT can leverage time, resource and talent wisely and run a high-effective organization seamlessly.

Organizations large or small are on the journey of going digital. Building a digital-ready IT roadmap is a proactive approach to well prepare for the digital transformation. And the history reveals that IT needs to be understood and harnessed by all stakeholders, to fulfill its potential and highlight the strategic importance as a differentiator of companies. After the new year resolution, how to craft a high achievable and comprehensive IT roadmap to fulfill the digital vision?

The technical evolution roadmap is the outcome to mind gaps between "To-Be" and "As-Is": A key ingredient will be the expectations and requirements from the business management on how they expect IT to contribute to the overall business. Once you know that current state (the starting point) for both the business and IT and how well they interrelate and get a vision for the business, and then you can begin to put a vision together for IT. Conduct organizational level briefing and choose most suitable and acceptable approach. The stepwise process from here to there should include a rough timeline and should provide the business benefit each interim state provides. It should check and include (a) What do you have (processes, artifacts, staffing ) (b) What can you achieve in the time frame (leverage both short term 6 to 12 months or longer term 3-5 years) (c) What element do you add in which fiscal years, what benefit does it provide you and why were these selected over others? Etc.

Define more than one way of achieving the goal. For each approach, estimate costs, resources required, timelines, risks involved, and trends. The issue is the business context definition. The approach depends on the company’s business and the role that IT plays in defining its positioning in the market. It all starts with the CIO and IT leaders defining what exactly is a "core" IT need. To put simply, IT faces unprecedented opportunity to refine its reputation, also needs to take more responsibility as a true business partner. The trusted expert who understands a lot about the performance dynamics of the tech sector, and to be seen as a value-added participant in conversations regarding the need to increase profit, market penetration, reduce risk, and to increase the velocity/effectiveness of every dollar spent. It is how to leverage the resources and assets of the IT departments to create the optimal business value - which in the next step, will generate revenue growth, brand or increased market shares.

Also, completed the gap analysis against "To-Be": Building the 'right' bridge between IT and business, closing the gap is about doing the basics right and managing prioritized / desired capabilities, you are good to define a roadmap for strategic (long term) / tactical (quick wins) timeline. Ultimately you'd want to recognize that what most businesses need is an IT capability, not "just" an IT department. It means IT should spend more resources upon crafting unique business capabilities and capturing business growth opportunities, beyond "keeping the lights on." When you place the "To-Be" state first, it creates a paradigm shift in your approach. Capabilities, barriers, risk, etc. will be quickly discovered. A roadmap should then typically contain or be informed by capabilities needed to get there. The old chestnut of core and noncore activities has come up until IT organizations are able to set the right priority, build the unique set of capabilities, and take the step-wise approach to implementing well-defined IT roadmap solidly.

The digital world is so information-intensive, technology needs will only expand, and most likely expand hyperbolically. The CIO should sit on the executive board, not because IT is important, but because it is business critical that the CIO and the IT department effectively catalyze, enables, and facilitates the business strategy and objectives, and ultimately drive digital transformation. With a comprehensive IT roadmap, IT can leverage time, resource and talent wisely and run a high-effective organization seamlessly.


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