This is my last blog for 2013 as I take off for some much-needed R&R with the kids. So I thought a philosophical discussion about strategic thinking might be a nice way to wrap up the year.
This thinking has been motivated by Dr Jason Fox, who suggests success is a destination and progress beats success as a focus.
In IT, our strategy is not about a destination, it is about progress in improving productivity or reducing risk. Better productivity is not a destination, while it may be a goal for your business in 2014, being more productive should be a constant focus with measures of success along the way but no final point of success to strive for.
So your evolution of IT systems is a journey with no final destination of success. It is about progress. When we are making progress we feel content and look forward to future progress. When we reach a destination we feel the hollow satisfaction of success. Do you remember the week after your final high school exams?
After reaching success, however you have defined it, you know you are at the start of a period of change. None of us like change so this is not desirable.
My personal observation over the past few years has been that wise decisions on investment in technology are often put off for fear of failure. What if that technology does not succeed?
Plenty of technologies have been over-hyped and failed to deliver or delivered for a while and then been superseded, so we fear investing in the wrong one.
I am no different in this than the next person. In fact, in a funny way I am more cautious than most as I hate to buy the latest gadget only to find out I bought a dud. I do get excited by innovation in the technology arena, but I temper that with waiting for positive reviews before adopting the technology for myself; unless it is given to me for free to try out, then I waste hours of my time trying to get something out of my free technology. But, generally, I do not want to waste my money on flash-in-the-pan solutions.
Often it is better to take regular small steps with technology, just behind the bleeding edge, than it is to leap into the unknown or to wait and take big steps trying to catch up with the industry leaders.
So for 2014 the IT strategy should be to make progress continuously in the technology aspects of your business with small, safe, sustainable but regular steps towards adopting better technologies that drive productivity for your business.
Don’t just go for the latest gadgets or mobile devices, figure out what real progress would be for your firm and implement a solution for that.
Can you move from paper forms for collecting data to mobile tablet-based forms that avoid costly data entry? Can you improve the platform your database runs on so it is more accessible from mobile devices? Can you improve the security of your data storage systems? Can you reduce the risk of losing your data in a flood or fire? Can you reduce the risk of IT hardware failure stopping your business from functioning by using new cloud solutions? Can you hire better technology people who are up to date with modern solutions?
We all have areas where we know we can improve our use of technology to reduce risk and drive better productivity. So let’s make 2014 the year of planned improvement through a strategy of improving productivity and reducing risk. If you do not know where to begin, get a strategic roadmap done sooner rather than later.
I wish you and all my readers the very best for 2014, have a safe and happy holiday over your festive season and I will be back on line in February.
David Markus is the founder of Combo – the IT services company that is known for solving business problems with IT. How can we help?