Guiding principles for your IT Strategy

The sheer amount of new technologies rise and fall at a pace that’s impossible to follow. And best practices one year may be obsolete before you’ve even had a chance to adopt them. IT leaders in big business must show returns in the short and the long term. Deciding where to invest no longer just sits with the IT leadership team, all areas of the business are applying pressure and demanding for a robust technology roadmap.

Fortunately there are a number of technology principles to keep in mind when making tech decisions. Here we discuss 5 our top five for your business:

Stay Open

Since the financial crisis many IT organisations are turning to ‘open’ source software (software that is developed, tested or improved through public collaboration) to increase efficiency and flexibility while speeding innovation and reducing costs. Open source is quick and easy to download, saving developers from having to constantly reinvent the wheel. Going open source also prevents being locked into working with a limited group of vendors, increasing your control and flexibility.

Look to the Cloud

In the last few years every major tech trend – from Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), mobile working and big data through to business intelligence and analytics – has all been made possible thanks to the flexible and reliable environments offered through resilient clouds. Cloud reduces risk and helps future proof your business. If you’re unsure of your business’ growth potential – don’t worry – you can scale infrastructure up or down as your business requires – switching IT investment from a capital expenditure into a variable operating cost that can be easily adjusted and adapted to changing requirements.

Software on demand

Software as a service (SaaS) is transforming IT – in effect it is leased software running in the cloud. It has a low cost of entry and quick deployment time, and importantly, the vendor will maintain it – with responsibility for upgrades and uptime. This lets your IT staff focus on other areas, and you can be sure that you’re using the latest and best tools to help people do their jobs.

IT as a Service

Turning over certain IT functions to managed service providers is becoming increasingly popular – with more than 2/3rds of companies claiming to have adopted this approach during 2014 according to CompTIA. Common functions of choice for managed services are typically email hosting, customer relationship management (CRM) applications, storage, backup and recovery and network monitoring. Some providers also offer to manage core business services like data analytics and business intelligence. Again this approach frees up time for IT staff to focus on more strategic initiatives – while having people who are world class experts in a particular field manage your IT requirements on a more flexible basis than doing so in house.

Stagger implementation

Whenever possible, it’s best to adopt a stepped approach. That way, you can remain nimble as either technology or your assumptions change. You can easily evaluate whether new developments in technology better enable your objectives, and whether unforeseen changes in your environment necessitate adjustments in what is the appropriate set of technologies to continue pursuing.

No matter what technical approaches you take in trying to make your IT “future proof”, it’s imperative to have a clear understanding of how employees will work in the future so that your technology infrastructure can support changing needs. You should also keep closely aware of how your company’s strategy is evolving – so you can determine which IT systems help to provide a competitive advantage and contribute the most to achieving organisational goals. Those that do are worthy of continued investment – those which don’t can be viewed as commodities and are candidates for outsourcing or to be managed as a service.