The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to make tactical digital transformation decisions on the fly, accomplishing in months what would have formerly taken years.
In one Twilio survey, 97% of the 2,569 enterprise decision-makers surveyed say the pandemic accelerated digital transformation within their organisations. According to Deloitte, the Mayo Clinic sped up its digital transformation by as much as 10 years.
Yet in many cases, these changes weren’t executed in a strategic way. Now, as the corporate world returns to ‘business as usual’—and organisations are feeling more confident in where things are headed—businesses are faced with a new challenge. Should they return to their original long-term visions and corresponding IT roadmaps? Or might the future look very different than what they’d planned on in the past?
Before the pandemic, many companies were already struggling to align their strategic planning and IT roadmaps around business priorities. Now, these same organisations are facing the added challenge of having potentially implemented technology during the pandemic that may not be a good long-term fit.
“A lot of businesses chose whatever existing products or services they had and expanded on them, because it was easier to just do that than to transform or change to a product or service offering that would suit their long-term vision and planning”, explains Adrian Capolino, Head of Presales and Architecture at Canon Business Services ANZ (CBS).
“In addition, during the pandemic, many additional technologies and solutions have come out”, he continues. “The zero-trust and cloud transformation conversations became extremely relevant and important because everyone was working from home on all different types of devices”.
As a result, he describes, “All of a sudden, the whole IT landscape shifted from the traditional technologies and conversations that were happening, to all of this new technology that advanced quite a lot during this period. Some organisations adopted a little bit of it, and some not at all—but those who haven’t should definitely be putting it on their roadmap. If they don’t, they’ll be left behind”.
In essence, even if your business and IT priorities haven’t changed significantly due to COVID, evaluating and updating your IT roadmap is still a worthwhile exercise.
To determine whether or not your past IT planning is still relevant—or whether undertaking an overhaul is appropriate—consider your past goals and actions against the direction you now intend to pursue. The following questions, which are part of a larger framework we use in conversation with CBS customers, can help.
IT strategy planning can’t happen in a vacuum. Without some consideration for the organisation’s aims—which may have changed substantially since your last long-range planning session—IT roadmaps are unlikely to gain the buy-in needed to secure approvals and funding.
Aligning IT priorities to the business strategy makes it clear which new capabilities must be enabled—and which are unlikely to gain traction with leadership.
“As an example, we talk to a lot of organisations that want to implement Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)”, Capolino explains. “But do you want to do it to improve your security posture, or because you’re aligned to NIST? How does it link back to the plan? Is it going to help the business achieve what it wanted to achieve? If you can’t answer these questions, moving ahead might be a complete waste of time”.
Is your IT budget increasing, decreasing, or staying the same? Is the organisation funding new CAPEX priorities, or is it transitioning to OPEX spending?
“During COVID, most budgets were decreasing”, notes Capolino. “Now we're starting to see them increase or stay the same, but leaders are being told that they need to do more with the same budget. That’s where you have to drive efficiencies, not only on the IT side but on the business’s operational side as well. If you're not looking at automation in your business, you should be, because that’s the number one area that’s going to open up budget very easily”.
If your organisation must be in alignment with APRA, for example, your IT roadmap decisions should be structured around the actions required to achieve and maintain compliance.
Your business’s particular risk landscape should also inform your IT roadmap planning. “Say you’re a bank, for example”, states Capolino. “The last thing you want is a breach; your reputation will be significantly impacted. So it probably won’t be that hard to convince the business to do something, as long as it’s linked to improving security and posture”.
We’ve also seen that many organisations are prioritising their digital customer experience, as the past two years have proven how crucial these connections are to consumers. The impact of service failures in this context could prove equally devastating. If this is true in your organisation, securing funding for both new technology and the automations that can improve teams’ ability to deliver great service should be simple.
According to Capolino, “The number one issue we see is an inability to align a technology or solution with a business requirement. IT has to create a direct link to a business plan or strategy, including how it's going to benefit the business”. Without this alignment, you risk wasting time and budget on activities that will need to be redone later or on plans that never gain traction within your organisation.
If a second set of eyes would be helpful in your technology transformation planning, the IT professional services team at Canon Business Services ANZ can help you identify opportunities to strengthen the alignment between your business strategy and technical priorities. That way, whether you return to your original IT roadmap or update it for your organisation’s new direction, you can be confident your IT investment will be well-spent.