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Translating business strategy to technology plan & implementation

Organizations are in the pursuit of success. In reality, business success means increasing topline and bottom-line, which is impossible to achieve without a business strategy. There is a practice of Annual strategy formulation activity by top executives. This strategy is percolated down to various functions in the organization for successful implementation.

The popular assumption is, if all parts of the ‘organizational machinery (Infra, process, people)’ work as planned, business objectives will be met. The technology functions need to convert the strategy to a technology plan. The question is – how do you translate business strategy to the technology plan? Every organization could have its practice of handling this – here is another perspective:

Stage-1 – Identify technology components from the Business Strategy

The business strategy usually includes different approaches - organic and inorganic growth, scale up and scale out in the market, new services/products, and modernization and automation. Some of these uses are driven by recent technologies like Cloud, Virtualization, Artificial Intelligence, Mobility, digitization, etc.

Technology members need to understand the expected changes in business scenario and technology interventions or support needed for the same. For example, mobility powered the banking app on the mobile, Cloud-enabled users to book trains\flight tickets from anywhere, and with digitization Insurance companies started accepting photos and scanned documents.

Stage-2 – Use the “Design Thinking” approach for right solution & verification

Once you identify the technology component, the next step is to build the right solution and testing. Business success ultimately depends on customer experience and organizations are focused on creating their products, solutions & services to enhance it. With tech teams understand the technology implications better, they still need inputs \ support for understanding the human experience. This is vital for implementing their solutions to achieve the expected customer experience.

Design Thinking (DT) approach offers a means to understand requirements and build solutions in a more human-centric manner. This often helps to think outside the box and also dig a bit deeper into problem-solving. It helps designers carry out the right kind of research, create prototypes, and test out products and services to uncover new ways to meet users’ needs. Design thinking essentially has the following steps:

  1. Research user needs - Understanding the problem through user research. It allows you to set aside assumptions about the world and gain real insight into users and their needs.
  2. State user’s needs & problems - Analyze your observations and blend them to define the core problems you have identified.
  3. Challenge assumptions & create ideas – Above two steps help to think outside the box and provide alternative perspectives in viewing a certain problem. This enables to identify innovative solutions for the problem.
  4. Start to create possible solutions - Design teams need to produce multiple inexpensive, scaled-down versions of the product/service, to investigate the problem & related solutions.
  5. Try out your solutions - Designers/testing teams need to test the complete product using the best solutions identified.

Design Thinking is a proven method to understand the requirement, right solution, and testing the solution – which saves time, effort, and money.

Stage-3 – Categorize Technology requirements

After gaining clarity on the requirements and related solutions, categorize them into one of the following:

  1. Existing infra & services to be continued – Some of the existing infra can continue to support new technologies. E.g., data centers, connectivity, licenses, H/w & S/w components, etc.
  2. Items to be upgraded – Existing infra/applications can be used with upgrades, enhancements, add-ons/wrappers, minor replacements, scale-up/scale-out.
  3. New infra – Whole new infra/app / DB to be created with a new solution. Design thinking inputs will help accelerate this step. Options like on-premise, hybrid, and Cloud solutions can be considered.

Stage-4 – Project plan, tracking & ensuring results

Initiatives are successful only when it gives business results. Many projects get delayed due to implementation challenges and become irrelevant to the business. To ensure a successful result, the right project management and timely implementation are essential. Having the right mix of managers and go-getters are critical for the overall success of deploying quick solutions and periodic management reviews.

Stage-5 – Evaluate the value derived vis-à-vis biz strategy

Business strategy may have altered its trajectory due to several factors, including market situations/variables. Hence, it’s necessary to re-align the technological outcome with changing market scenarios.

Delivering flawless customer experience is critical for sustained success in the industry. At the same time, understanding business strategy and taking it as service/product to customers on time to serve and support them is an important factor for technology teams.