It can be easy to focus almost exclusively on your business sales and how many customers you need to find over the next 12 to 18 months. One area that needs just as much attention is your IT strategy, in particular how it aligns and supports your business goals.
For a start, too many companies, especially small to medium size businesses, look at their IT support as a static part of their operation.
In fact, any IT strategy needs regular review and must move with the times and challenges to remain relevant. It’s not just about what cyber security measures you have in place either, but the whole integration and functioning of your digital infrastructure.
An effective IT strategy will deliver a number of different benefits:
- Enhance the overall security posture for your business online.
- Improve ROI and boosting sales.
- Embrace new technologies to improve business processes.
- Spend less time worrying about your IT and more time growing your business.
Undertake an IT & business goal audit
Before you can put together a realistic IT strategy, you need to understand where your business currently sits. A needs assessment or audit is designed to highlight the areas where you may have shortcomings or might want to update or evolve your systems. It can also show where your IT is working well.
This can be a lengthy process depending on the size of your company but will give you a firm basis from which to develop future plans.
What you need at the same time, however, is to align your future IT strategy with your business goals. The more you understand the synergy between your business goals and your future IT strategy, the better equipped you will be to grow and succeed for the future.
Your IT audit should cover a number of areas:
- What is the purpose of your IT strategy? How long does it cover and who are the important stakeholders involved in its implementation?
- Look at what current technology you use, assess its life expectancy and create a clear inventory.
- Look at what technical solutions you ideally need in place to support your business goals over the next few years. For example, if your aim is to reduce office costs and include more remote workers, you may want to look at file sharing and collaboration cloud-based software for your business.
- You will need to allocate a realistic budget for the existing provision and any changes you need to make to provide your IT support.
- There are going to be limitations on what you can do depending on that budget and you should also understand how to work within these.
- If you are introducing new IT systems, one key factor is going to be how you implement them – What disruption is there going to be? How long is it going to take? What training do staff need?
- It’s important to build a framework where everything comes together including timelines for implementation and how you measure success. The better your metrics are here, the more efficiently you should be able to implement any changes or improvements to existing IT infrastructure.
Cyber security considerations
One area you will certainly need to be focused on in 2020 is cyber security. There’s no doubt the challenges are increasing in this area and keeping up to date is vitally important. Smaller businesses tend to assume they are less at risk from cyber security attacks than large corporations. Nothing could be further from the truth – SMEs are seen as a prime target because they are often less protected.
You need to include a review of your current cyber security measures in your IT strategy and look at how these can be strengthened. With advances in cloud services and AI you also need a service that is flexible and easily updated.
- How do you defend your systems from cyber security risks?
- What systems do you currently have in place and are these fit for purpose?
- What processes do you have in place for training staff on potential cyber security threats?
- How do you deal with third party suppliers and the security threat they may pose?
At the very least, your IT strategy needs to include a comprehensive examination of cyber security risks and how you intend to deal with them in 2020. That’s even more important in light of the new General Data Protection Regulation and legal requirements all businesses have to meet.
Opting for on-demand services
Things have changed when it comes to IT and many businesses nowadays opt for third party on-demand solutions. These can include everything from cyber security to cloud computing and digital storage.
What this brings is the ability to tailor your provision and budget better in running your business. Most services are eminently scalable so if you suddenly see a surge in growth you will have systems in place that can react efficiently and appropriately.
If you are searching for flexibility, scalability and efficiency in your IT strategy, switching to a subscription-based solution is going to make a huge difference.
Automation and AI can make life easier
It’s the general point of IT to make it easier for a business to operate. Putting aside the cyber security support you might hope to achieve, your infrastructure needs to take advantage of the various digital transformations that are taking place at the moment.
Key to this is the growing inclusion of automation and AI in digital processes. This is particularly important for smaller businesses that want to compete with bigger companies but lack the resources to do so. AI can help, for example, with delivering a great customer service experience. Automation can mean your business doesn’t have to rely on staff to do often menial but important tasks and can even replace roles completely.
Your IT strategy for 2020 should be exploring all potential avenues and matching them to your current business goals. Put the right processes in place and they should help to move your business forward faster than you think.
Working with a great IT support service
An IT strategy can be complex and demanding to put together. That’s why it’s important to work with an IT service provider that understands business and can help you implement the core changes that are going to make a significant difference to your performance over the next 12 months.
At Cyan, we have a track record of helping businesses of all sizes match their goals for growth with their IT strategy. Contact us today to find out more.