There is more change and innovation happening within technology today than there ever has been before. But, if you actually stop and think how you and the IT team in your business are innovating and keeping ahead of the curve, I would hazard a guess you are more focused on keeping the lights on than innovating and moving forward. Of course, I am sure there are some of you that will read this and will be charging ahead and radically innovating and driving your business, but the clear majority will be standing still burdened by everyday work.
In 2018 it is my opinion that one of the most important things an IT leader or influencer can do is to have a vision, to develop a strategy and to fully document it. Whilst you may be confident in where you are taking the business and don’t feel the need to virtually commit pen to paper, how confident are you that your colleagues are heading in the same direction? And are you confident that you know exactly how you are going to get from A to B?
There is a huge amount of considerations that should go into an IT strategy and of course elements such as business as usual are highly important, we can’t walk away from today’s production infrastructure to concentrate on what’s important tomorrow. However the strategy should define where you want to get and how you are going to move from A to B.
When thinking about IT strategy, I start with the vision, this should be a combined vision of the business and the technology. Where can you see these both being in 5 years? Document this, use it as your starting point, understand what you need to learn and investigate to help you with this vision. Now work your way back to today considering elements such as infrastructure refreshes, deployment of new applications, security practices etc, how are you able to ensure that each small change you make over those 5 years will help you get from where you are today, to your vision in 5 years’ time.
Some of the areas that I highly recommend are within your strategy include:
· The Cloud
o How will you be consuming the cloud within 5 years, what is your vision?
o Consider SaaS and PaaS solutions first before IaaS for more legacy workloads
o How are you going to get started with the cloud, could DRaaS and solutions like Office 365 be a good starting place
o Do you have a framework to use to help consider if a cloud solution is suitable for you? Think about residency of data, security, data protection, identity and more
· Applications, Data and Analytics
o Sorry to say this but your users don’t really care about the infrastructure or where the server is located! Until it goes down at least. They care about the applications and the data!
o Understand what applications your users are using, understand the processes, understand the outputs, understand the data the business needs to be more productive and more profitable. Formulate an applications strategy that works for the users and for the business.
o Understand if analysing your existing data in new ways could give better insights into your business.
o We are in an era where we need to be more secure than ever before, consider which laws may affect your business, understand the accreditations that are available to you to help become more secure and to demonstrate the maturity of your approach to security
o Consider GDPR and how your business will need to change
o Look at how you can enable the users to me more secure whilst being more productive than ever before!
o How are you going to secure access to all the cloud applications your users will be using?
Of course, there are an infinite number of other subjects for you to consider and only you will truly know the complete list for you and your business. Or more realistically you will be the best person to research and identify these.
Once you have documented your strategy, discuss it with your team, colleagues, peers and tweak as needed. Don’t be afraid to come back to this document and update it as time goes by, be a sponge, listen and learn and think if you need to update your strategy with anything you have recently learned.
When working with IT leaders that have been through this process it is clear they have much more direction, these are the IT teams that actually move forward, actually achieve something and actually are more than just a money pit to the business, they are a fundamental part of the team driving the business!