08 May Building A Long-Term Sustainable IT Strategy
Planning Your IT Strategy
The first thing to understand in considering your IT strategy is that it does not stand alone separate from the overall planning. IT strategy should sit hand-in-hand with organisational strategy, whether it be public or private sector. Planning for future expansion, or downsizing, is essential in developing an IT strategy that is flexible and sustainable in the long-term.
Whilst the role of the CTO, Head of IT, and the like, is to manage the IT strategy and implementation, they must work closely with key members across the organisation. This close communication will ensure that everybody is aware of the business’ direction, and can plan their strategies according to this.
If you are an SME, the chances are that you don’t have separate heads of departments, and if you are a startup entrepreneur, you may need to develop an entire IT strategy by yourself. According to Computer Weekly;
“The first area is the basis of any business – the software applications that support and enable all business processes. IT investment should be prioritised to focus on using business- and value-oriented criteria to prioritise investment.”
Essentially, the first port of call is to establish what the organisational aims are in the long-term. This means calculating estimated growth, in terms of revenue, client base, and team size. If your organisation will be working with a vastly greater number of clients five years down the line, then make sure that your IT strategy can adapt accordingly. This doesn’t necessarily mean implementing a solution that will scale up, but can also mean changing your vendor or systems according to a pre-established plan.
Organisational finances are usually the domain of the financial department. However, a close relationship must be nurtured between IT and finance in order for adequate budgets to be allocated for the right systems, at the right time.
Furthermore, if these IT systems impact other areas, such as sales and marketing, feedback from the heads of these departments should also be welcomed. There will always be up-front investments involved with implementing a long-term IT strategy, and ongoing financial commitments to factor into the overall budget.
Impact Of The Cloud
The development of cloud technology has made IT strategies far more flexible and adaptable. There are some staggering statistics doing the rounds;
– The global market for cloud equipment will reach $29 billion by 2018.
– 82% of companies saved money by moving to the cloud.
– 1/3 of IT budgets to be spent on cloud computing in 2013
Subscription model services and more SaaS solutions on the market mean that organisations are able to utilise complex solutions over the web, with the potential to scale up as necessary.
This is financially sustainable because many systems will operate a price-per-user or price-per-storage model – and often without limit. Even the largest organisations in the world are able to utilise this model. This means that organisations often do not pay for more than they use – reducing wastage and freeing up storage space and resources for others.
In terms of a long-term strategy, the Cloud offers unprecedented levels of flexibility, and can also reduce long-term maintenance costs significantly. The reliability of the vendors is always improving, and security is paramount, so your data is now safer than ever.
Sustainability: The Word Itself
A sustainable IT strategy means a strategy that is sustainable economically, but can also mean environmentally. Hardware that becomes futile within a short period of time will never be financially efficient, and may also be harmful to our planet if not disposed of responsibly.
Companies such as Intel are massive proponents of environmentally sustainable IT practices, and cite a number of things that will help companies develop environmentally-friendly IT practices.
- Using sustainable suppliers
- Manage capability life-cycles
- Reducing travel
- and more.
Implementing cloud solutions can benefit the environment by allowing remote working, reducing people’s reliance on transport to access work-critical information.
The overall lesson to be learned is that working together reaps huge rewards. Developing a sustainable IT strategy has been made easier by the development of flexible cloud solutions, but everyone in the organisation must understand that IT affects multiple aspects of the business.
Long-term planning is essential to avoiding costly mistakes, and with this in mind you should work hard to develop an IT strategy that is scalable and flexible for sustainable success.