We will have to unlearn much of what we understand about I.T. Strategic Planning, the landscape is a never ending body of movement, change and definition, static rules are no longer useful. Much of what we know is in the control model, we build closed systems to protect data and deflect those who wish see it. In the future much of this data will not be behind walls, much of it will be readily available for consumption. Data that is not for consumption by the world will still need to be kept safe, but for the most part, it will be available.
Depending on how your organization is structured, bricks & mortar, I.T. Teams already in place, you will still have to adopt to the new Open & Free Business Model and wireless connectivity. Content normally consumned will conitinue, some content that was not available will find it’s way out into the open.
If you ask CIO’s today what the landscape will look like in the 5 – 10 years they probably can’t tell you. Why? If the exponential growth of technology is to continue we will have to learn or find a way to think exponentially, not continue in our linear fashion. Information Technology is going 2,4,8,16 and 30 steps later you are at a billion. The growth rate is impossible to keep up, let alone predict what we will or won’t be able to do in the next 10,20,30, to 50 years. Many of us might not be here to witness the true Matrix like living, but Virtual Reality will seem more real than the reality you live today. How do we plan for Virtual Reality?
I.T. Strategic Planning in the future will have to embrace more open business models and develop for everything mobile, infact, you should be doing that today! Simple things like the need for tech support will be gone, you won’t need to budget for personal, you will only need to budget for nanotechnology that will seemlessly fix problems, because we will all be connected. Remote access won’t exsist as we know it, it will just happen, and authentication won’t be necassary because clearance will be built in. The current framework won’t work for your organization 5 years from now. CIO’s will have to view everything with bionic contact lenses, where everything technology is about being mobile, embedded into eye care, and handheld devices. In the far future we will all become wireless devices and be seemlessly connected to the data we need.
The I.T. Strategic Planning steps I have made available here on my Blog, work for todays business models, but in the next 3 – 5 years they will fail because the plans won’t scale. There are 1.7 Billion on the Internet today, over the next 5 years that number will grow to 5 Billion, has your current I.T. Strategic Plan factored in this large growth already? What does that kind of growth mean to your organization, and how does it impact your I.T. Strategic Planning?
You may understand what your organization needs today, but are you looking out far enough, do you have enough information to show executives what is coming, I’m not convinced most CIO’s are looking. The future of I.T. Strategic Planning will no longer start will the 1st building block, we are way past that now, we will be building ontop of what we have already.
Remember, you don’t know what you don’t know, we can’t see the details of what’s coming but we know something far bigger is coming, and it’s not a small home network. I spend a great deal of time looking at the future and I work backwards to present day, that’s where helping you figure things out gets interesting. Creative ideas on how to adapt new technologies, how to use them and how they will improve revenues is where you should invest your time.
I.T. Strategic Planning is morphing, changing shape, are you fighting it or going with it? I would love to hear your thoughts on the future of I.T. Strategic Planning.
There are many things I.T. Strategic Planning can cover, blogging isn’t really one of them, unless your an IT Sweat Shop and it’s your portal to the world. Blogs however, tend to be birthed out of Marketing & PR Departments, they are a means to an end when it comes to getting the message out or building community.
From a Strategic Planning perspective, the Blog is a tool, yes it’s a technology platform but not a strategic one, this is not an item the company may live or die on. In my case, I’m a Consultant, a self-employed one at that, one of my tools of choice is this Blog. In this case, not only would it be in my Business Plan, it would also be in my I.T. Strategic Plan. Why? I would have to plan to implement and deliver the platform in order for my business to to do business here.
How would I arrive at such a decision? Well, I am not a large organization with resources, I am a sole Proprietor, I can reach my target market faster and in a more efficient and cost effect way. Hence, I need the Blog! I also need to have a Hosting Company to hold my blog so I am able to deliver my content, not only to my target market but to the world. I started my own webhosting company, it was a place to put my friends & clients, I also wanted learn how the backend works. So the arguement of Tactic & Strategy comes to the forefront yet once again.
This decision was easy for me, almost no money is required, I know how to build the site, and I know how to run the Content Management System. I knew which CMS I was going to use (WordPress Self-Hosted) & which theme, I use Headway Themes.(affiliate link) A no Brainer right?
Today almost every person is or will have a Blog at some point, almost every business will have a Blog, if they don’t, they won’t really have a voice out here and most likely will be out of business. So, the Blog is strategic in some cases, and in today’s digital world, it is imperative.
Having said that, the Blog is also not strategic. Why? There is no way a Blog can circumvent the server and it’s server platform, that has to come first before the Blog. The server, or the hardware required to deliver your information is strategic in that it’s a fixed cost and yet disposable at the same time. In my IT Strategy I would be saying, I need a server, on that server I need to run Windows Server or Linux or whatever server software happens to be the best suited to deliver my content. On that server, there will be web server software, it will be home to the Blog, it will be the space to which I upload and store my content.
As you can see the Blog really can come later, it may be the driving force to having a server but I think not, you will need a place to store files first before you need a Blog. We could go back & forth on this for some time, but the fact is, the Blog is becoming a staple in your business strategy and it is thought of long before the server ever is. So in that sense it’s part of your I.T. Strategic Plan.
What do you think?
This technically could be the last section of your plan, this is where you take a high level look at the plan and existing challenges that may hamper your ability to deliver on any said item. Depending on who and how I.T. decisions are made in your organization could literally dismantle your strategy on many levels. I wrote on this topic back June 2009, it’s called I.T. Decisions – Who Makes Them In Your Organization?
Once you’ve finished this section you can then do an Executive Summary for the purposes of presenting to your Executive Team and or Board of Directors. Here is a short hypothetical example of this section:
A one year planning and budgeting cycle creates significant difficulties for the I.T. Department to execute the early stages of this plan.
- Hardware and software have to be upgraded or replaced regularly, either to take advantage of newer technologies or reduce maintenance fees. However, sometimes an upgrade would make long term sense but cannot be done because it is too large for a one year budget. This has resulted in a series of sub-optimal short term purchasing decisions being made.
- Recent budget cuts have forced a multi-year upgrade schedule to be differed resulting in perpetually out-of-date technology.
- Many projects take longer than one year to complete and require both tools and personnel at the start-up stage, but will not see significant results until the subsequent year.
- A new service is anticipated to be required by a department in a future year but the department lacks sufficient budget or approval to such an expenditure; however, there might be sufficient lead time for IT to prepare the infrastructure; does IT ” risk it ” and build the infrastructure anyway?
That’s just snippet of what you might put in this Planning Observations section, I suggest you pull your top three together to ensure you are covering the critical issues. You’ll want your IT leaders to be in the loop especially if you are seeking additional budget and it gets rejected, they may be able to assist you with other creative ways to turn the rejection around.
This section may answer some question but will also bring out more, consider it an opportunity to think tank with your team. The S.W.O.T (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) gives a quick reference to things that may or may not be real, but are possibilities. The accumulation of all these steps builds a road map, an understanding, and makes it possible to explain or describe where you are going in a short concise way, and makes it obvious what you are planning to do in the coming month’s and or years.
Keep in mind there is no wrong or right answer here, you are merely compiling and observing your organizations current status. This is just one step on the journey, one step in building a business case, and one more step in assessing what services and changes are needed to support your organizations business requirements. The basics rarely change, only the technology does, and of course there is always a list of nice to haves, documenting everything helps you filter what’s important and what is not.
Again, this list will be different…it should be as technology and business needs change. Here is an example:
1. Minimal Core Infrastructure (name your application here)
2. New, enthusiastic team
1. 85% of staff are new to the organization
2. Unable to meet the expectations (Can’t move fast enough to please everyone)
3. Network instability
4. Lack of integration of core applications
1. Social Media Networks
2. Open Source
1. Inability to compete for qualified skilled people
2. Security – hacking, spam etc.
3. Inadequate budget
4. Little control over vendor products or direction
5. Little control over technologies
This is just an example of what your S.W.O.T. might look like, pull your team together and ask all the tough questions, make an exhaustive list and then pick the top 5 from each of the 4 areas in your SWOT.
This is the prime definition taken from the Wikipedia site on SWOT Analysis:
SWOT Analysis is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business venture. It involves specifying the objective of the business venture or project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving that objective. The technique is credited to Albert Humphrey, who led a convention at Stanford University in the 1960s and 1970s using data from Fortune 500 companies.
Until next time