Planning a digital strategy for a volatile future Posted on December 17, 2015 by Tim Burke As I noted in my last post, new information technologies are likely to impact your business sooner than you’d like, so remaining reactive and focused on only the short-term has never been more dangerous. You need to generate a forward-looking digital strategy to keep your enterprise competitive. If you find this easier said than done, you’re not alone — only about a quarter of businesses have a coherent digital strategy. Yet without the IT planning that produces an effective digital strategy, you face a real possibility of surprise technological disruption in your industry and to your enterprise. Step 1: IT planning begins with counting what you already have Getting somewhere new always starts at the place where you’re standing. When it comes to your organization’s technology stance, that means you need to know all about your network infrastructure, your systems architecture (platforms, interfaces, how data moves), an up-to-date systems inventory (usage details, ownership, end-of-life dates), and a way to track IT support issue trends. Step 2: Make an IT roadmap Once you have a handle on where you are, you can begin to figure out where you want to go and how to get there. The most effective digital strategy tends to be derived from an IT roadmap that includes A strategy statement that articulates your organization’s business priorities and goals. A tally of the projects and initiatives that will enable and achieve your business goals. This list should be timeline so you have a sense of the order in which projects need to occur and a rough estimation of duration, size, and start and end dates. A prioritized review of project technology options, produced jointly by IT and line-of-business decision makers and refreshed regularly to embrace ever-evolving opportunities for improvement. Thorough justification for each project you’ll undertake over the next year or so, and a more general justification for longer-range initiatives. Estimates of cost and duration for each project — in detail for those you’ll tackle in the next year. No orphan projects. Every project should have a corporate owner who directly oversees it. Step 3: Get expert IT roadmap help when you need it This sort of IT planning takes expertise. You’ll need to understand the implications of cloud computing, risk management, security trends, and much, much more. So I urge you to bring in an experienced technology advisor you can trust to help craft the digital strategy you need to power your enterprise’s competitive engine.