We are seeing a trend in the region of mid-market companies losing their competitive advantage due to outdated or lackluster business technology. We see a number of causes, but most commonly we are finding companies holding onto a “keep the lights on” strategy as they did during the downturn in the economy or IT not knowing how to innovate from within. So how does this affect the bottom line?
Legacy custom applications not built with enterprise class architecture have become burdensome to maintain and IT is not as nimble as they once were in responding to business needs.
Custom built applications tailored to the needs of the business 4 or 5 years ago are not able to keep up with the rate of business change.
Regardless of the cause, the business problems are the same.
“How do we regain and retain technology that supports competitive advantage?”
“How do we differentiate ourselves through innovative technology?”
“How do we avoid this cycle of technology being “irreplaceable” to “needs to be replaced?”
Well there is no silver bullet or quick and easy recipe; just good old fashioned analysis, planning and execution.
Ask your business stakeholders the following questions:
Are we losing business due to our existing technology platform?
How could the business technology platform support growth in the business?
Are there current market trends that we could and should be reacting to?
Are there specific steps in our value chain where innovation could be applied to gain market share?
Are there functions IT should stop supporting in order to free up resource for strategic initiatives?
All technologies have a lifecycle. A firm should develop and execute from a future state technology roadmap that provides guidance when short-term or interim technology decisions are made.
When resource planning, a limited percentage of resources should be focused on “keeping the lights on,” leaving the majority of resources to be focused on executing against the future state technology roadmap.
Culturally the chasm between business and IT should be crossed by some simple Agile Software Development principals.
Engage a business “product owner” on all strategic initiatives.
Develop a scope for the large initiative and organize it into attainable / deliverable components against the larger strategic initiative.
Involve the business stakeholder in all functional reviews, user acceptance testing and post-mortem reviews.
Hold each other accountable for project, pace, quality, and value.
Seek outside input for a broader set of experiences and innovation.
And finally, don’t be afraid to seek guidance and leadership, there are professionals that assist a company in analysis, planning and building future state technology platforms.