Technology is critical to every aspect of business from marketing to financial planning. One of the issues businesses face is determining which technology offers the greatest benefits and will contribute to long-term business success. Technology decisions are so critical to business sustainability they are woven throughout the sections of the IT business plan because it enables the entrepreneur to embrace the competitive advantage it brings.
As technology continues to evolve, it becomes more embedded in everything the business does to produce business results. Forrester, a prestigious research company, conducted months of research on how to develop a business plan strategy in the age of the customer. Two of the tips arising from the research address technology because technology can improve strategic planning and decision-making by enabling entrepreneurs to grasp the today’s market status and future possibilities.
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In the past, Information Technology (IT) staff were largely responsible for delivering and controlling technology. That is no longer true. Customers and staff have direct control of information input to the internet, with extensive networking driving business results. The end result is that business decision-makers and IT senior leaders must blend business and technology-based strategies in a way that drives business success.
Balancing Technology and Business Strategizing
Following are some tips for achieving a balanced and integrated approach to strategic planning that integrates technology.
1. Establish a Technology Vision that is Blended with the Business Vision – Making technology decisions in isolation from the business vision can easily lead to IT that is not productive. Technology and business strategies can intersect in many ways by matching long-term business goals, IT and business capabilities and competencies, risk management strategies, and so on.
2. Strengthen Communication between IT and the Business Strategists – IT personnel should participate in all major decision-making events. The technology professionals can bring expertise and knowledge to the table and make significant contributions to strategic planning.
3. Develop an IT Business Plan – Within the business plan there should be a technology roadmap that creates a sub-business plan. The roadmap identifies current technology status and the future technology goals. It is easy to waste money on enterprise architecture that does not contribute to long-term business results. The roadmap should identify technology gaps, set goals and objectives, include strategies for getting from point A to point B, and clearly explain the integration of the technology and business strategies.
Embedding Strategic Thinking in the Business
Strategic planning is not an activity that should be delegated. It is the responsibility of the business owner and top management. This is true for marketing strategies, financial strategies, and technology strategies. The Chief Information Officer and the Chief Executive Officer should plan together during strategy development and consult regularly during the business year to ensure decision-making involving technology at all levels is aligned.
The IT managers should also invite business strategists from various units to join IT strategy development teams. Getting people involved in the business planning process ensures nothing is left to chance. As is true for the general business plan, the IT roadmap needs regular review, monitoring, and revision.
Illustrative business plan samples
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