Unpalatable IT strategies?
One of the greatest roadblocks to executing enterprise IT and digital strategy is idealism. What do I mean by this? There is a strong tendency for C-suite execs, IT planners and architects to aspire for the ideal end state. It’s not wrong but it often results in unpalatable plans. And very often, it’s the prescribed rate of change (too much, too soon) and associated cost of change, that makes it unpalatable.
How do “unpalatable IT plans” happen?
From my observations, a lot of these IT / digital / tech transformation plans sorely lack an important ingredient – knowing what’s actually going on with the business and IT. In the architecture world, we call it the current state. But from my experience, a balanced current state encompasses a few key factors – issues, on going investments, CEO imperatives, and trends that matter to the company. It’s not sufficient to just know what these factors are, but it’s more important to understand why these are important to the business / company.
It’s more apparent now than ever. Why?
Well, the digital wave is still rolling and cresting and moving. Priorities are morphing and shifting. 1) In Asia, unless you’re a born-digital business, revenue from the digital channel still pales in comparison to the existing routes to market. Don’t get me wrong – I truly believe this will eventually change, rapidly. What I mean here is that, there is a lower propensity to spend. 2) The digital rules are still being re-written. For example, in-housing the development of digital apps may work for some, but not all at that point in time. 3) There is a strong focus on keeping costs down.
Here’s what I would prescribe as an approach for building a palatable digital / IT plan :
Haha I know I tend to be a bit abstract, but the essence of it are embedded in these 5 steps. What I’ve experienced and observed is the top-down approach in building an IT strategy. If you notice, it begins with the client’s current state. This is not new – it’s fundamental architectural thinking found in methods like the ADM in TOGAF. And the great thing about methods and framework is it’s technology and trend agnostic. What I’ve done is categorized the current state snapshots into 4 common factors that typically spur people to act, based on my experience and observation. I’ve also delayed the quantitative assessments at a later stage to avoid the condition of “paralysis by analysis”.
So, how does this make IT strategies more palatable? It establishes a strong reason (why) for your plans (hows, whats). It gives reason to move, to change, to stay the same.
I’ve been experimenting and executing this framework for over 2 years now and the outcome and results have been consistent. Of the many outcomes, the one that tops it off is how this approach gives my clients the context to act on – context that originates from and hinges on their current state, and not some ideal picture. More recently, I’ve been training and mentoring architects across the globe on this methodology. I’m seeing the same consistency in outcomes at an early stage. 🙂
Anyway, as always, happy to hear your thoughts. Reach out if you would like more details.