Future proof your IT strategy

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When it comes to assessing technology needs in business the term ‘future-proofing’ continues to lead conversations. This is especially true within the services sector where factors such as resource utilisation and service delivery are critical to growth and at times rely on integrated solutions accessing real time data to achieve them. 

With so many enabling technologies on offer its difficult to know exactly how they can be applied, not only within the current framework but also within the context of a future roadmap. IT research giant Gartner released growth figures for the worldwide public cloud services market recently, projecting growth of 16.5% (in 2016) to a total of $USD204 billion, up from $USD175 billion in 2015. The fastest growing sub-sector being the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) market which is expected to grow more than 38%, proving that outsourcing infrastructure needs to the public cloud remain high on the corporate agenda. 

We’ll look at the value of an optimal cloud based technology strategy, and how a more adaptive approach can provide better outcomes in the long term. 

A balance between crystal-ball and strategic thinking

Identifying your key points of difference may be the first step in developing a strategy to future proof your business. Aligning these differentiators with the technologies that enable them will serve you in achieving more scalable outcomes. 

Think well beyond your competitors and the services they currently offer. Divergent thinking requires engagement with key stakeholders to identify and prioritise a technology strategy. They need to uncover what customers and suppliers will potentially want in 5 years’ time, anticipate trends and their rate of adoption within modern business. Always remembering that digital disruption waits for nobody. 

Transformative technologies that drive efficiencies also boost employee retention. The adoption of consumer technology within the commercial sector has a motivating effect by driving employee confidence. Evidence of this can be seen across teams of mobile technicians using collaborative service software via handheld devices, allowing them to share information and knowledge whilst on site. 

So I have a vision, now what?

The next stage is to source a technology partner who shares your vision and can manage your transition to future proofing against emerging competitors. Benefits beyond Opex vs Capex also involve the ownership of accountability and risk mitigation. Outsourcing IT alleviates many of the headaches encountered when things go wrong, and if they do the provider is usually obligated to resolve them within contractual timeframes.  

What’s most important is that a cloud delivery model can also deliver an integration platform to help build scalable solutions as they’re required. Scaling up becomes straightforward, without the needing to buy, depreciate, maintain and upgrade superseded infrastructure.

So as a service, you’re also paying for the provision for elasticity and adaptability over the long term. The freedom to outsource new integration requirements that may help future proof your organisation against a potential threat from a competitor. Success will always be about staying ahead of the curve, this being one of the few things we can predict. 

Although too many times we see companies hamstrung by their SaaS provider who has little capacity or agility to keep up with their customer’s vision.

Measure twice, cut once

So futureproofing, from a IT standpoint is about leveraging an extensible technology framework. An adaptive, agile foundation that’s scalable. A solution provider may be able to deliver a single software app under a SaaS model but may have no ability to deliver an integrated Omni channel or a solution that integrates many moving parts, delivered as seamless experience to the user.  

Nobody can truly predict what business will need in 5 to 10 years’ time. Business leaders in the tech world such as Cisco predict that by 2020 there’ll be over 50 billion connected devices. There is so much speculation on the rate of digital transformation and specifically the adoption of technology in business we’re seeing today, technologies such as wearables like Google Glass now used in production at Boeing, Machine-to-machine sensors and process automation technology. Predicting how they’ll effect people, processes, products and services within your business today as well as tomorrow is key to evaluating who to partner with.

One thing is certain, there is no advantage to a one-size-fits-all approach anymore. Whilst it may serve in the short term it can also be rigid and a significant growth inhibitor in the longer term. Examples can be found where companies who made decisions to partner with some SaaS providers came to the realisation they no longer had free access to their own data, causing problems when later attempting to introduce Business Analytics or CRM tools into the product suite.  

Put simply, look for more flexibility and integration capability from a technology provider. How do they help future proof the customers they support and most importantly, understand how their capability and strategy fits within your prioritised roadmap and vision. 

 

Bruce Minty

Bruce Minty

Bruce Minty is the Supply Chain and Manufacturing Product Manager for ERP vendor Pronto Software.

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