Preparing an IT strategy and roadmap is the first step on the road to higher levels of efficiency, enhanced global competitiveness, and higher profitability.
While the financial services and manufacturing industry have quickly adopted new technology, the same cannot be said of the natural products industry. There appears to be a degree of diffidence in leveraging the power of cutting-edge information technology (IT) for higher efficiency and growth.
New technology platforms focusing on cloud and mobility, protection from cyber criminals, and deploying faster and more capable hardware and networks are critical to organizational efficiency. An organization can substantially enhance customer acquisition and servicing capability by deploying data mining, analytics, and machine learning solutions.
Pinpoint customer access is possible through GPS-enabled solutions. Social media platforms have made customer outreach across regions and continents possible. Transformative IT solutions and technologies have made it possible for companies to become more efficient, bring costs down, achieve nimbleness and bring higher shareholder returns.
Developing a properly defined and comprehensive IT strategy roadmap is critical. This will help a natural products organization induct technology at a controlled pace. Knee jerk or ad hoc induction adds to cost without commensurate benefits.
A strategy and roadmap definition involves comprehensively analyzing the company and the industry.
IT Strategy Analysis Model
A strategy and road map preparation exercise can be broadly broken down into three steps:
1. Current state analysis
3. Strategy and road map recommendations
Current State Analysis
The current state and future needs of the natural product organization business and technology should be examined to help define the IT strategy and road map. The organization’s business vision, strategy, and plans must be understood. Constraints, challenges, and opportunities of a natural product industry segment should also be identified. This is often done through a series of focus group discussions.
The state of the network, operating environment, applications, technology, and interoperability among various pieces of technology in the company need to be studied, and the constraints need to be understood. It is best at this stage, also called the requirement gathering stage, to review the IT adaptability of the workforce in the organization.
An assessment should be made on the ability of the workforce to adopt and re-skill post-introduction and implementation of the proposed new technology architecture. Some organizations seek the IT strategy team’s help to assess expected workforce redundancies post-new technology introduction.
This, if carried out simultaneously with the strategy and roadmap exercise, will help the company gain a 306-degree independent view of changes that will be required to be put in place during implementation. This will also help the company decide the pace of change. Factors that dictate the pace include, among other things, new technology introduction time, workforce management planning, re-skilling, process re-engineering, and overall costs required for a holistic IT upgrade.
The IT strategy and road map recommendation are based on the organization’s vision and long- and short-term objectives. Some companies want a step up from current efficiency to higher levels. Others may wish to achieve best-in-class status in the industry segment. Still, others may want to incorporate cutting-edge technologies and achieve transformational changes.
Depending on the organization’s objective, benchmarking needs to be undertaken. Generally speaking, the bigger the technology leap, the more disruptive it will likely be for the organization. The exercise will help the organization prepare for the disruption.
Recommendations and road maps are based on the current state assessment and benchmarking. Here the consultants recommend, from the technology standpoint, which software, hardware, or network is to be either upgraded, re-engineered, retired, retained, or developed.
IT Recommendation Model
IT recommendations should consider interoperability with other pieces of legacy or new technology. Efficiency within the organization is influenced by the ability of pieces of software to leverage and analyze data from others.
Hardware and networks at a high level are best sized and estimated. This will assist in the seamless integration of the proposed new IT ecosystem. A solution architect will help determine how technologies could be integrated into the organization with the least redundancy and minimal disruption. The technical architecture recommendations also help factor in cyber security, data protection, and disaster preparedness concerns.
Even the most technologically advanced organization needs people to operate it. A workforce capability assessment exercise to assess workforce retooling needs is best done alongside IT strategy and roadmap definition. This will help the natural product company prepare human resource (HR) management plans that can be rolled together with new technology induction.
An IT strategy and roadmap consulting team should include an IT strategy expert, solution architect, network and hardware specialist, security, HR and training specialist, and business analyst.