At the Bartlett System our goal is to focus, align and measure our clients' business strategies. Through a thoughtful exploration of a client’s business models to the discovery of key performance questions, we help define key performance indicators that can guide conversations, frame initiatives and transform an enterprise. We work with technology partners like Logic20/20 that can help take our clients on the journey from strategic roadmap to full-fledged digital solution.
Here are some thoughts from Prashant Ganjikunta, Senior Manager at Logic20/20. Logic20/20 is a business and technology consulting firm headquartered in Seattle, WA; their technology services work in compliment to the Bartlett System to deliver strategic value to organizations. Please visit our own blog posting 7 Strategic Questions That Drive Project Success & Failure on the Logic20/20 blog here.
There's No Panacea...
Businesses are constantly seeking ways to gain a competitive edge by streamlining, automating, looking at analytical insights or decreasing the time to market. Organizations that achieve success and reach their goals are often those that are willing to transform and innovate using technology and new processes. Whatever the goal, there is no doubt a group of IT products, solutions and/or services will promise to be the panacea to any business problem.
As an IT leader, how do you choose the best technology solution for your business? Adding any new IT technology requires monetary investment, change management, and possible disruption to operations; it’s important to consider all of the options and ask the right questions before making a final decision.
Here are 7 technical questions IT leaders should ask of an initiative in their organization before making an IT investment.
In my sternest “parental” voice, I ask “Do you need it or do you want it?” In other words, will this new technology truly transform the business or is it really just a collection of cool bells & whistles? Look past the flashy features and ask, does this new technology actually align with business goals?
Back up a couple of steps and determine first whether an IT transformation is necessary at all. Remember that in today’s world, business change is constant. It may not be necessary to tailor a new IT solution to every business challenge or strategy initiative. There may be a way to adapt or modify current solutions to support new projects.
#2 Will the new solution solve the specific problem it’s trying to solve?
In the name of corporate standardization and simplification, IT leaders may be inclined to seek new technologies that pair nicely with existing technologies and have the ability to scale across a whole organization. Unfortunately, this approach may not result in the best technologies to solve some very specific problems. Solutions that make sense for one area of a business may not make sense across the board.
Are you looking for a tool that will solve a specific problem or are you looking for a tool that plays nicely with overall corporate standards? If it is the latter, you probably are not selecting the best solution.
#3 Who is guiding the digital strategy ship?As with many things in life, it is important to have a plan for digital transformations. There should be someone in charge of road mapping a company’s digital strategy and driving the execution of that strategy, most likely a CTO or IT Director. This person would determine whether a new technology that is being considered would fit with the plan and could ensure that they are implemented and incorporated smoothly.
#4 Is big data empowering your people or controlling them?
In our increasing data-driven world, it’s important to understand what your data will be used for – or if it’s destined to languish unused. We assume that more data is better, but there is a point to which data stops empowering people and starts controlling them. Agile data management, including inputting, cleaning, storing, organizing, validating and analyzing data can be resource heavy, especially at the front end when developers are designing your data management infrastructure.
Continuously throwing more data into an IT system can slow operations and produce low-quality data leading to incorrect analytics. Ensure that your data is not a drag on your business before planning for a new IT initiative and automate processes around data wherever possible.
#5 What are the risk management and security controls?
Unfortunately, data hacks have become commonplace these days. It is essential to protect sensitive business and personal data and develop complete security strategies and risk management controls. Map out mock scenarios of possible security breaches.
What controls are in place to remedy or prevent a breach? Do your strategies account for people error, in additional to technology vulnerabilities? When adding a new technology to an IT system, the technology should be fully vetted first to ensure data protection.
#6 Who has a finger on the pulse of IT trends?From cloud computing to customer experience to analytics or security; all different technological specialties produce frequent buzz detailing the good, bad and up-and-coming. It is important to be aware of current and upcoming technology trends, products and services and for the IT leader to evaluate technologies to determine whether they might complement or boost an organization’s digital strategy. Internally, it is also important to have a robust learning platform to understand new technologies and trends.
#7 What's the fine print?Once leadership decides to adopt a new technology, it is important to run through a checklist of the specifications and how they will fit into a digital strategy. For example:
- What resources are necessary to run the IT solution and what type of skills or training do those resources need to be successful?
- What does the user support and maintenance look like? Are there additional support fees or is it easy for users to troubleshoot?
- Can the technology scale to support new requirements and business goals for the next 2-5 years?
Before embarking on a new IT initiative, confirm that it fits within the organization’s digital strategy, get the “thumbs-up” from the right players, and, most importantly, ensure that the initiative will help move the company toward its business goals.