Hello to all,
Many articles are written on a daily basis on IT Strategy. Since the 80’s, when Information Technologies became available and visible on desks and homes, many people and organizations have expressed their thoughts on IT Strategy. Very useful and often also less useful thoughts. So: why should I, and what can I add to the discussion?
The ‘Why‘ is easy: for me, IT is a fantastic ‘level playing field’ where everyone has the same chances to succeed. IT is a very young science, or as I sometimes say: IT is also an art. Only 40 years young, compared to physics: it is really just starting. And in IT everything is possible: if you have enough time and money, you can build whatever you want. See the examples, from Apple, Microsoft, via Google to Facebook and Twitter. And with many new startups in the starting blocks. IT makes me enthusiastic all day long.
And it is not about techniques or details: IT is about learning, guiding, coaching, trust, understanding and changing. Yourselves, your business users, your family: IT can help to bring solutions for most kind of needs. For me, a world without ICT would probably depress me a lot.
The ‘What‘ question is probably more difficult to describe. An IT Strategy fully depends on:
- the type of organization
- the investment cycle in which you are in
- the priorities of your company
- the wishes of your customers
- your budget
And the list can be huge. In fact, if one would ask me, there is not such a ‘thing’ called IT Strategy. IT Strategy should be a realistic plan with agreed objectives and principles relating to use of Information Technology in your organization, and fully in line with the Business Strategy. As IT is part of the business, IT strategy is to me just a part of the overall company strategy. Agreed by, and shared with, your stakeholders, shareholders, partners and teams.
As IT leaders, we tend to focus too often on technology aspects and the future, while forgetting the people, and our history. I often try to make a relation to other businesses, such as building houses, textile production, or printing books. Business with a history over several hundreds of years old, and with techniques that have become better during the past centuries.
Personally, I am not such a strategist. I like to analyze situations, data, people, environment, followed by advising and implementing realistic goals. In project mode or as a continuous workflow. I like to compare the offshore outsourcing IT with the Bangladesh T-shirts: do we learn from this? Cheap, but maybe not always made to last long. Building houses: without a proper foundation, your house is gone in a few years. The same in IT. Books are printed since Gutenberg invented this almost 600 years ago. And we can understand e-book reading in 5 years?
My advice for IT strategy is the famous KISS principle: keep it simple, stupid. Find the right balance between people, changes, P&L and technology. Not easy, but do-able. If your most basic user in the company understands what your IT strategy is about, you will succeed. As there is no IT without users, you will succeed your strategy not just thanks to your own efforts, but thanks to your users embracing your views and actions.
Take care, and I will be back soon.