A growing business often is a matter of great pride and joy for the entrepreneurs and huge envy for their discerning competitors. However, there is also a flip side to this. As a business scales up, its previously stated benchmarks and purposes start to become irrelevant. The diverse components of a business strategy, including its IT roadmap, has to be revised, updated, and changed to suit the requirements of the current business situation.
Need for Change
IT forms the backbone of every modern enterprise, big or small. But the IT architecture created at the beginning of the business may have well outlived its utility. Change demands evolving with the times and this applies to IT too.
In the business jungle, to remain static is to eventually die. For survival and to thrive, businesses have to grow continuously, remain competitive, and have the ability and capability to meet the challenges thrown up by a dynamic environment. Archaic, legacy IT systems can become a serious hurdle in this direction. As a business scales up, one has to make sure that its IT solutions and systems have the capacity to meet the upgraded business goals. In case there are any discrepancies in it, then the IT and business strategies of a firm shall become misaligned, making the IT roadmap ineffective.
IT Strategy Pillars
There is no universal rule or guideline to follow when it comes to developing a 100%-efficient IT plan, especially in the dynamic and ever-changing business environment. Even though no system can be perfect in all circumstances, the IT strategy should, at the outset, provide for the following imperatives:
► Upgradation: Technology changes rapidly and the IT strategy structure should have in-built agility to quickly respond to such changes. The IT framework should have the flexibility to permit speedy upgrades to cutting-edge technologies. This is, of course, subject to business exigencies and should have economic justification.
► Redundancies: This means having extra or duplicate resources available to support the main system. It is a backup or reserve system that can step in if the main system fails. The three main types of redundancy are Hardware e.g., reserve storage drives and servers; Software e.g., a backup operating system; Data e.g., storage of important backup data.
► Scalability: It is the property of a system to handle a growing amount of work by adding resources to the system In computing, scalability is a characteristic of computers, networks, algorithms, networking protocols, programs, and applications.
► Integrability: the process of linking together different computing systems and software applications physically or functionally to act as a coordinated whole
► Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans (DRP/BCP): These are documented blueprints containing strategies for minimizing the impact of a disaster, so an organization will continue to operate or quickly resume key operations Regular testing of these plans with real-life simulations is a must.
► Effective Data Protection: In a digital world, data is an invaluable resource. IT strategy should cover the core elements of confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data. Data protection and cybersecurity measures should ring-fence data from leakage, pilferage, corruption, and damage from external or internal threats.
The above features represent the critical components of a sound IT strategy. Providing these enablers will ensure that the enterprise will not only have the wherewithal to weather disruptions and headwinds which arise in any dynamic ecosystem but also possess the adaptability to address emerging challenges.
Being Ahead of the Game
Growing businesses require IT strategies to be forward-looking i.e., to be ready for possibilities that lie ahead. As businesses grow so does the volume of transactions, the variety of services and products on offer, the market share, and the customer base. Response time gets reduced drastically. Dependence on analytics increases manifold. There is a reach-out to new markets and new locations. Communication channels with stakeholders have to be modified. Mergers and acquisitions require the integration of systems amongst the merging organizations. Processes have to align to new dimensions of business. Higher volumes imply higher data levels which require a new set of analytical tools to dissect and provide information for better business prospects. Predictability features through the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) generate guidance that gives a competitive advantage.
Support systems, especially IT, have to keep pace with the demands of an expanding business. Business objectives and technical solutions have to go hand in hand.
A progressive and robust IT strategy, with in-built flexibilities, will give the edge in enabling businesses to get a better grip on market vagaries, customer needs and satisfaction, competitor strategies, identifying and resolving problem areas, and reducing risks.