Why is Tech Strategy Development Important?
Technology runs our world and creates opportunities for efficiency, growth, and scalability within our businesses.
Without a technology strategy plan, your business can easily fall behind competition.
Successful organizations share the common trait of relying on planning processes to ensure growth and operational efficiency. Just as with other business functions, every organization needs to have a considered and well-developed technology plan. In this introduction to Technology Strategy, we will explore why it is important, how it is developed, and how to implement it successfully. We will also include relevant technology strategy examples!
What is Technology Strategy?
The definition of technology strategy is the creation of an overall business plan which consists of principles, objectives, and tactics for using technology to achieve organizational objectives.
Your development of a tech strategy may define specific technologies, identify which staff members have responsibility for managing these technologies, future scalability, and how these technologies will align with your business’s objectives. Your business strategy will influence your technology strategy.
The goal is to outline and specify how technology should support overall corporate strategy spanning 3 to 5 years into the future. It is not a new concept and always evolving. Select a template and prepare to adapt.
You’ll find there are many types of technology strategy. Below, we cover two examples and frameworks helpful for developing your business goals and important when considering hiring technology strategy services.
Contact us for support developing your technology strategy framework.
Even this quote about technology business strategy from 1980 still is relevant, “The sheer pace and scope of developments required a degree of technological knowledge rarely found in tandem with a keen appreciation of the concerns of business.” – Harvard Business Review
Technology strategy planning is typically developed by the organization’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in collaboration with senior managers from other business units and the executive team. This collaboration is vital as organization-wide buy-in ensures the success of the technology business strategy.
Your tech strategy framework and technology implementation impacts budget allocations, operational procedures, responsibilities in relation to business objectives, and day-to-day functions.
Ensuring overall agreement within an organization is a key factor to your plan’s success!
6 Critical Cybersecurity Policies Every Organization Must Have
Selecting the Right Technology Strategy for Your Business
New technology implementation can benefit an organization by disrupting traditional processes, creating efficiencies, and therefore leading to competitive advantages.
A technology expert will help you forecast technology shifts that will potentially disrupt organizations, industries, and sectors in order to help determine whether your organization should adopt new technology. Contact our team for expert input on your technology strategy plans.
Examples of Technology Strategy – Blockbuster & Napster
Often, the timing of strategy implementation is a challenge for organizations. The challenge lies in being too late to the party or too early. Here are two examples of technology strategies that led to failed business models.
Strategy Example #1 – In 2000, the founder of Netflix, approached Blockbuster’s CEO with a proposal for partnership, in which Netflix would run Blockbuster’s brand online, while Blockbuster would promote Netflix in stores. Blockbuster’s CEO laughed at the idea and Netflix went on to dominate the online video rental industry, leading to Blockbuster’s bankruptcy in 2010. In this case, Blockbuster failed to recognize the emergence of new technology which would disrupt what had been traditionally a very profitable business model.
Now let’s look at the tech strategy example of a company that was ahead of its time.
Strategy Example #2 – In 1999, Napster was founded as an independent peer-to-peer files sharing service. Napster specialized in sharing MP3 files of music through a user-friendly interface. It became widely popular with college students sharing songs from their dorm rooms for free. However, Napster was sued by the music industry for copyright infringement and ultimately was shut down by the courts in 2001. In 2003, Apple launched its iTunes Music service in cooperation with record labels and consisting of digital rights management, which was an evolution of Napster’s idea. In this case, Napster failed to consider how the use of this new technology would impact the music industry and business models in this relevant tech strategy example.
“Technology adoption and implementation timing can have a profound impact on the success or failure of an organization.” – Payam Pourkhomami, President & CEO, OSIbeyond
Tech Strategy Tip – Existing Technology vs. Emerging Ecosystems
Another key factor to consider when adopting new technologies is whether the technology utilizes existing ecosystems or emerging ecosystems. For example, when Voice over IP (VoIP) technology was emerging in the 1990s, the adoption of the technology made sense for most organizations, given that the new technology would use existing data networks to transmit voice, thus cutting costs and enabling integrations with applications.
Similarly, when virtualization technology emerged in the 2000s, its adoption also made sense for most organizations, given that the new technology could operate on the same on-premise hardware infrastructure, but would provide more efficiencies and consolidation, thus reducing costs.
By the mid 2000s, “Cloud Computing” which is on-demand delivery of resources by a cloud services provider, started to emerge. However, for VoIP and virtualization technologies to be successful in the “Cloud”, a new ecosystem would have to be created in order for the adoption of the new technology to be feasible. The emerging ecosystem would have to provide satisfactory performance, which depended on reliable internet connectivity with sufficient bandwidth to transmit data or voice across the internet without latency. It also had to do so securely.
Therefore, the adoption of Cloud Computing technologies depended on a foundational ecosystem to be developed in order for the concept to be adopted and therefore successful. The consideration of existing versus emerging ecosystems is critical in determining the timing of new technology implementation.
Implementing an Information Technology Strategy
The first step in technology strategy implementation is to develop a team.
1. Develop a Team – This team is typically led by the CIO/CTO of an organization, however organizations that do not have internal resources in technology positions can fill this role with external cybersecurity consultants who have technology expertise. The team must also consist of individuals from various functions across the organization, who are passionate about technology, and will serve as advocates to the rest of the organization.
2. Define the Plan – The next step is to thoroughly define a technology plan to align the strategy with business objectives. Once long-term business objectives are clearly identified, then a plan needs to be developed that exactly defines what needs to happen over the next three years. Note that a one or two-year plan is not going to result in a technology transformation on its own, as large-scale changes always take longer than expected.
Once a detailed plan is drafted, the technology strategy should be aligned with the organization’s technical architecture. The organization’s long-term technology strategy will not be realized if the underlining IT infrastructure cannot support it.
Ensure an architecture roadmap is developed because it is critical to successfully executing the technology strategy. The architecture roadmap will provide a technical perspective on the maturity of existing applications and hardware infrastructure. It should consider when software and hardware might reach end of life, as this will be a factor on the timeline of implementing new technologies.
3. Prioritize Initiative Strategically – Next it is important to prioritize technology initiatives strategically. No matter what the size of an organization, there are usually never enough resources and funding to meet every demand. Ad-hoc projects will pop-up during the strategy planning process, and each business function within the organization will have their own “special projects”. It is thus important to make strategic choices in the allocation of resources to achieve planned end results and organizational objectives.
4. Sell Strategy to Organization – The final step is to go out and sell the new technology strategy to the organization. This step requires a comprehensive plan as to how the strategy is going to be shared with leadership, executives, and staff, including engagement, communication, and messaging. This process will require repetition to ensure all functions within the organization are on the same page on the overall timetable of the Technology Strategy. Once this has been achieved, Technology Strategy is ready for execution.
Benefits of Developing a Technology Strategy and Framework
Most organizations do not have a long-term technology strategy. Often, they have a one-year plan at best. However, shorter-term plans on their own are not sufficient for aligning an organization’s technology with business objectives as that is not their purpose.
The difference between a short-term plan and a long-term strategy, is that the former focuses on the technology, while the latter focuses on the business and its goals. It is important to understand that the sole purpose of leveraging technology is to meet business needs in order to achieve the organization’s mission.
A well-developed technology strategy offers many benefits to an organization.
Read our 4 Reasons for Developing Your Tech Strategy:
1. Alignment with Business Objectives
Technology is not simply there for convenience, but rather it should be directly associated with business needs. A technology strategy ensures that the business needs are fulfilled by directly linking objectives of the technology strategy to business needs.
2. Development of Long-term Vision
A technology strategy ensures a long-term vision, focused on the future that looks into the horizon to try to predict what the organization’s business needs will be based on the market and competition. While at the same time understanding that change will take time, and is achieved through series of milestones, objectives, and goals.
3. Increased Operational Efficiency
When technology is aligned with business needs and implemented at the right time, there are direct efficiencies that are gained. These efficiencies can be in the form of increased employee output (production, performance, etc.), improved customer communication (response, experience, etc.), and enhanced team collaboration (sharing information, solving problems, etc.), all of which make an organization more agile.
4. Competitive Advantage
An organization that can operate more efficiently by strategically leveraging technology, inherently gains competitive advantage. Competitive Advantage can be in the form of higher sales and profits (in commercial businesses), or progressing the organization’s mission (in non-profit, advocacy and research organizations).
Technology is a fundamental part of business, it has resulted in the emergence of new business models and changed customer experiences. In order for organizations to compete in today’s world they must operate at the speed of business or risk becoming obsolete just like in our technology strategy examples.
Technology must be a part of every organization’s business strategy. Let’s talk about your technology strategies!
Technology Strategy Consulting
Technology planning and the development of long-term strategy goals, will help your organization succeed in this modern world. Whether you are looking for efficiencies, scalability, or just improved operations, implementing technology strategies is a great way to increase your growth potential. But, technological strategy can also get in the way and add extra work. Contact a technology strategy consultant to find your inefficiencies and be prepared for the future!
Contact us with any questions or to schedule a technology consultation.