What Is Your IT Strategy? Sounds like an easy question, but according to the insightful presentation at Cloud Expo 2013 by Leading Edge’s Simon Wardley, the most likely answer to this is “to do the same as everyone else is doing and hope that it works okay for us too”.
In fact what you should be doing, he argued, is asking yourself “Why does my business do what it does?”, and only when you have answered this Business Strategy question, should you work out the How, What, When and Where technicalities of your IT Strategy.
In other words, your IT strategy needs to be closely aligned with your business roadmap and needs to focus on your company value chain : that is the chargeable “value added” factor that the work you do adds to what was there before. Wardley likened this to a military general who has every kind of technology available to him, but who only knows what to do with it once he has a map of the battlefield in front of him.
Here at CounterBooks we are quite clear what our roadmap is (to assist as many C-Store, petroleum retailers, hospitality retailers and general retailers to reduce costs, improve performance and manage risk through providing an online retail accounting software) and what our value chain is (i.e. the series of activities that we undertake to deliver economic and business value to our clients).
Some rather big companies have recently discovered (to their fatal costs) that they have perhaps not done this analysis adequately.
Imagine if HMV, Blockbusters and Waterstone’s had realised 10 years ago that their business was not about selling physical goods to shoppers, but was about providing multi-format content to consumers via a highly advanced technical platform. Instead of Amazon being a $100bn dollar company and Netflix streaming content to over 30m users in the US alone, those familiar-but-disappearing High Street companies could be the global content giants instead.
Looked at from this perspective, it is clear that “Corporate IT Services” should no longer be considered a “cost centre” (aka “necessary evil”, in Joe Baguley of VMWare’s words) focusing on supporting your mundane internal business needs (desktop/network support, business systems development etc), but should be considered your “weapon of choice” when it comes to gaining competitive advantage over your peers, and, if you are fortunate, to allow you to develop disruptive products that fundamentally alter the playing fields that you compete upon.
Richard Kingston, IT Director, CounterBooks