Take a second, and consider some of these questions:
- How important is IT to your business model? Is it important at all?
- Do you budget for IT Support?
- How detailed is your planning process when buying a new piece of technical equipment?
- Do you have an up-to-date inventory of all your IT products and services that you pay for?
These questions help to establish your organization’s view of IT. For many businesses, IT is merely a tool used to keep their business afloat. For others, IT is looked at as a core part of business strategy, or as an ‘edge’ over the competition. For some, IT is just an expenditure on the books that they hate looking at, and don’t see the value in.
Take a look at the descriptions below. Where does your business currently fit? Where do you think your business should fit?
- Complete lack of documentation, or IT planning
- Non-technical person doing IT Support
- When purchasing new technology, price is most important concern
- IT is not considered as an important part of the business
This business model is quite common with businesses who have not experienced downtime, or system failures in the past. It’s true that a bare minimum setup might keep their business afloat for 2 or 3 years but it’s only a matter of time until they experience a failure. When this occurs, their chaotic setup is not only to blame, it exacerbates the length and the severity of the issue.
2) Disaster Relief
- Reactive IT implementations
- Some documentation
- Minimum to moderate coverage by IT Support provider
- Decisions are still motivated by price
This model is based on the idea that IT is something that is break-fix only. Companies that adopt it, wait for something to go wrong, and then fix it. It usually involves patching over breaks rather than dealing with underlying issues. These companies look at the past instead of looking at the future.
- Reactive IT Support as well as scheduled preventative maintenance
- Finds problems before they crop up – commonly use monitoring software
- Decisions are now motivated by excellence and reliability of the solution
- Planning and budgeting an important part of any technology purchase.
- Low levels of downtime
Proactively planned IT models are much more sustainable. A company that follows this, will make investments in order to increase the longevity of its business processes. This type of company makes sure the foundations of the business are strong, and makes IT something they don’t need to worry about.
4) Value Addition
- Technology investment is a strategic asset
- Goal is not only to maintain business, but to improve it
- Improve productivity through proactive IT Support
- Information security is very important
- Almost zero downtime
This is what we would call a modern view of IT. IT is no longer looked at as a hassle, but as a key improvement to business functionality. IT is not just essential, it is an edge over the competition. Business strategy aligns with IT strategy. This business makes heavy investments in IT and thereby enables its processes to grow to new levels.
There are different ways to approach this investment, as I have outlined. Businesses with a view to sustainability and business continuity would try to move down this chain to a position of ‘Value Addition’.
Businesses that fall at a lower bound of IT investment strategy, should consider what their competitors are doing. Think of the top company in your field, and then think about how your investments compare to theirs. You should also consider your business goals.
Invest like the company you want to be, not the company you are.
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