One of the most interesting aspects of the human body is the fascinating way in which our eyes move. When you shift your gaze from one object to another in your field of view, you are temporarily blind. This is good, because if you weren’t, you would experience a dizzying motion blur every time you redirected your attention.
Consequently, your eye movement is “ballistic” – meaning, once the eyeball has started to move, its trajectory cannot be updated with new information (more like a bullet than a guided missile). You are functionally blind during much of your waking life, but you don’t even notice because your brain fills in the gaps. (Read to the end to learn how to break through this illusion).
Now, consider a technology strategy as a parallel. At the beginning, your attention is outward: you are observing the world, and based on perceived opportunities and threats you are setting a new target for the organization.
However, once your new target is set, your attention moves inward: you focus on execution and on shifting the organization to the new target. During this time, you are partially blind to new changes in the environment – your movement is “ballistic.”
Unlike with eyesight, though, it can be strategically perilous to allow ourselves to “fill in the gaps.” Acting on assumptions about internal and market forces can lead to costly detours.
This is why it’s crucial to revisit your technology strategy often, but how do you know when to reassess?
When an IT Strategy is Needed
In our experience with clients, there are seven common motivators:
- The business landscape is shifting. A technology strategy bridges the gap between your business goals and your IT infrastructure. It aligns your technology investments with your overall business strategy. So, when that business strategy needs to change, technology needs to follow. Does your technology stack and operating model still support and enhance your business objectives?
- Your business needs to restructure. As your organization grows and evolves, so should your technology. Whether it’s M&A activity, or an internal realignment of your lines of business, structures necessarily shift to deliver value. A robust technology strategy ensures that your IT infrastructure adapts to changes in your business structure, whether you’re expanding, diversifying, or restructuring. If you are reexamining org charts, it’s a good time to do the same for your technology strategy.
- Emerging technologies are changing the game. Staying competitive means keeping an eye on the future. Beyond allowing you to adapt to new tech, a technology strategy should enable your organization to embrace innovations and build new capabilities that position you for ongoing success. Does your technology strategy position you for success in the business environment of tomorrow?
- Regulatory requirements have changed. Compliance with regulations and industry standards is non-negotiable in today’s business environment. A technology strategy should help you stay ahead of regulatory changes, ensuring your systems and processes remain compliant.
- Your critical platforms are decades old. Outdated technology can be a roadblock to growth, increasing technical debt and ongoing risk. A technology strategy identifies legacy systems and outlines plans for modernization. Updating your plan will help you to enhance both efficiency and security.
- Your understanding of “current state” isn’t so… current. Before charting a course, you need to know your starting point. Do you have an updated “lay of the land?” A technology strategy includes an IT discovery process, which provides a comprehensive view of your current technology landscape. This baseline assessment helps you make informed decisions about where improvements are needed, and it is also an excellent exercise to perform when a leader is new to role.
- You need to do more with less. Technology, by its very nature, should make us more efficient. But legacy systems and practices can perpetuate inefficient IT infrastructure, costing more time and money than they save. By revisiting your technology strategy, you can identify the investments and processes most in need of optimization, quantify the benefits of a new approach, and emerge both leaner and better.
A Common Framework
If you found yourself nodding while reading that list, you may be wondering – so now what? No strategy is exactly the same, but it’s recommended to start with an industry-proven framework, and then tailor it to your specific situation depending on what motivator(s) are in play
After all, it’s typically not just one motivation that’s driving the strategy. A recent case study of ours involved modernization, M&A restructuring, and a shift in business strategy for a consumer bank, requiring the CIO to revisit his technology strategy and roadmap.
The Bottom Line
It’s important to remember that just like eyesight, insight and foresight depend largely on your perspective. Existing biases, inertia, and relationships can create blind spots, so don’t be shy to lean toward some experts to help you along the way.
Breaking Through the Illusion: Try this at home… Stand a few feet in front of a mirror and shift your gaze from one eye to the other. Despite knowing that your eyes must be moving, you won’t perceive the movement; your brain conceals it. However, if you repeat the same experiment with your phone camera, you will be able to see the motion due to the slight delay in processing the video signal. (Reference)