I graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2006 with a degree in Politics. Following a brief stint as a political researcher for the Scottish Government, I decided that a career in government ma...
Murray Smith, Consultant
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Home > Services > IT Strategy Consulting
Developing an IT strategy has traditionally been a cyclical process, in response to either a known technology shift (e.g. ERP systems coming to end of life) or a business-driven requirement (e.g. M&A activity, growth and international expansion, efficiency and cost-reduction programmes).
These drivers remain critically important but the advent of the fast paced ‘digital revolution’ has added new dimensions to developing an IT strategy:
The IT function can only support this if they are truly integrated with their business customer and have the capabilities and capacity to respond quickly. As well as closer business partnering, we have seen a shift towards “bi-modal” ways of working, a merger of development and operations (“DevOps”) and an organisational shift from functional IT to product centric teams.
In many sectors, IT is fast moving from supporting the business to being the business. Not only has IT moved from a being a passive support function to an enabler of growth in recent years; it is now becoming the power-house of growth. And as the IT strategy increasingly sits at the heart of the business strategy, so the role of the CIO is fundamentally beginning to shift. Read more about our views on the changing role of the CIO.
Nearly all our clients are grappling with digital and the impact it is having on their businesses. The digital revolution is changing the demand on IT, driving new ways of thinking and a new breed of IT strategy. Some of the key themes driving these changes include:
Changing role of IT: digital is becoming a preferred route of customer interaction with the business, as well as enabling brand new products and services. E-commerce continues to grow apace and online systems have replaced many other face-to-face activities, changing the demands on IT and requiring a greater alignment between business and IT strategies. The digitisation of products and services that the business provides means IT is no longer confined to the traditional ‘back office’ supporting role i.e. running the infrastructure, enabling shared services and enterprise platforms etc.
IT are partnering ever more closely with the business and, in some instances, becoming embedded within the business: there is no doubt that there is a need for IT to be closer to their business customers so they can quickly react to this new and varied demand. Different organisational are reacting in different ways:
There are pros and cons to each approach and the reality is there is often a hybrid of all three. Regardless of the approach, it is critical that IT create a relationship with the business that enables them to understand the full scope of activity underway across the business and enforce core standards, but where they are flexible enough to support, host and interface with applications that are developed and run by the business as required
Feeding data hungry businesses: 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. The Internet of Things, Big Data and the Cloud are all making it possible for organisations to benefit from this vast data. More importantly, the business customer has developed a strong appetite for analytics and insight: customer intimacy is required to retain existing and win new customers, while efficiencies can be driven out of a deep understanding of operational performance. This is driving new requirements in the way IT services are provided and the skills required to support them. Read more about our views on Digital, Big data and Cloud.
Development of Bi-Modal IT strategies: traditional needs for an IT function remain (e.g. End User Computing, support, service desk etc.) through the provision of a stable costeffective base to ‘keep the lights on’. However, the inexorable move of the entire IT estate to the Cloud, including use of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for all core functions, is changing the role of IT to manage more by outcomes (service and supplier management), than incomes (specifying and building IT systems and infrastructure). IT functions need to be able to manage this transition to new core technology, becoming more flexible and reactive to adapt to the more immediate demand driven by the digital revolution. They also need to recognise the new skills and organisational capabilities this change demands. This is creating a need for 2-speed IT functions: one speed to manage the changing, traditional components of IT, and another, more agile speed able to cope with immediate, digital business demands.
These new challenges do not make the customary demands on IT disappear, they are additive. Where traditionally, an IT Strategy might focus on ‘keeping the lights on’ and/or core system development, it is now necessary to look through a third lens to enable the digital agenda. Responding to these three tiers requires different capabilities and proximity to the customer and only by considering all three, can you be successful in this new world:
Through our work with many of the world’s leading companies, supporting them with the development, design and implementation of their IT strategies, we offer a compelling combination of industry and business knowledge relevant to your sector, functional understanding, technology (including digital) expertise and the transformational change know-how to make it all happen.
We help CIOs, their senior teams and executives within the business to understand how best to move their IT strategy forward – and we work closely with them to get on and make it happen. We don’t try and tell you what your strategy should be; we bring highly experienced and talented people, who work as close-knit part of your team, to help you develop the right strategy for your business with real ownership.
With our ‘low volume, high value’ model, we won’t overwhelm with large teams or take months to produce results. Typically, only using one or two highly experienced and high calibre people, we can help you develop your IT strategy in just a few weeks. Above all, this is about sound judgement; doing enough analysis, engaging with the key stakeholders and drawing on our experience to help our clients make a confident call on what’s right for them.
The advent of the digital revolution has made the need for a clear, current and dynamic IT strategy more critical than ever. And as the transformational opportunities presented by technology spread from the back-office into the faster-paced front-office, organisations are realising that it is a very new breed of IT strategy that is required.
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