Thursday, September 13, 2012

What's my IT strategy?

I was asked this question recently about a company's IT strategy. Which bit was actually strategy? This is fairly easy to work out.

1. Take a company's IT strategy.

2. Now remove any and all references to a choice of a specific vendor as these are purchasing decisions e.g. we will use SAP to ...

3. Now remove any and all references to implementation details e.g. we will build a private cloud to ...

4. Now remove any and all references to operational details e.g. we'll improve our SLA's and reporting times to ...

5. Now remove any and all references to tactical choices e.g. we will invest in big data, BYOT (bring your own technology) and open source 

What is left, is the IT strategy. This should give you an idea of where the company is heading and what is governing those purchasing, implementation, operational and tactical choices.

15 comments:

Nan0c said...

Don't you start with the company's business strategy?

Simon Wardley said...

Of course but the question was referring to an existing IT strategy and which bit was strategy. Hence it's an exercise in deconstruction.

What remain is your IT strategy. How that reflects your actual business strategy is something else.

Alasdair Allan said...

I don't think I've ever seen an "IT strategy" document that's going to have anything left in it after you pair that stuff out...

Simon Wardley said...

+Alasdair Allan : ouch ... that's pretty cutting.

Joel Berman said...

Simon,
DO you have any examples of a good IT strategy or an IT strategy?

dan said...

I think I'm with +Alasdair Allan.

What's left after you take all those things out...? Um...

Either nothing, or a business strategy.

You took all the IT stuff away.

As an aside, this seems appropriate moment to recommend Richard Rumelt's book, "Good Strategy / Bad Strategy"

Simon Wardley said...

+dan : ouch ... you and Allan are being very cruel to IT folks, consigning them to a heap of operational and tactical steps and basically stating there's nothing strategic about IT or if there is it's business. That really is cutting.

Anonymous said...

After applying the "Wardley filter" the result is NULL.
In fact, here in Australia it becomes featureless after removing the vendors opinion/direction (item 2).
Alasdair & Dan voice real-world experiences – IT Management are deplete of strategy
Ouch x 3

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Simon Wardley said...

+Steve Gorton : ok, this is getting very harsh.

Do you really believe that "IT management are deplete of Strategy"?

Whilst I accept that some of what is called IT Strategy lacks any strategy but is instead operational, tactical and purchasing decisions dressed up as such - this is not uniform.

I happen to know organisations in the software, finance, construction, retail, media insurance, healthcare and manufacturing industries that do think strategically about IT.

They do, for example, examine their own and their competitors value chains and the state of evolution of components and then deliberately set out to alter the market in their favour. They understand the landscape, the issues of timing and the tactical choices that IT provides. They play the game and hence "Players" in their industries.

I accept there exist many companies who don't and sort of leave it to chance rather than having a deliberate strategy.

The survival of these "Chancers" depends upon competitors and it usually looks bleak when a "Player" enters their industry unless they adapt.

However, I think people are being too harsh here. Just because some "IT management is deplete of strategy" doesn't mean all is.

jake thompson said...

I have a good example of IT strategy posted in this site umzug basel

Anonymous said...

My apologies, sir --

I have started to use this elegant thought in my customer conversations. I only steal from the very best.

Whatever it might lack in pure intellectual merit it more than compensates by being extremely controversial.

Please keep up the good work!

-- Chuck

Xander Lawson said...

The thing with IT strategy is that coming up with it isn't easy. I've seen companies spend countless hours doing surveys and business to business market research just to make sure what they do gives them an edge over the competition.

Liberty Silvagni said...

Besides that, there is also a tedious process meant for project management software, accounting, cloud management, and others. As for me, I just let sbms do the job.

Sophie Atkins said...

IT strategies are often related with online businesses. That’s why aside from hiring small business consultants for our online marketing, we also make it a point to always update our IT strategies.