The Information Age has brought about massive changes to how we do business and interact with technology. In 2019, businesses must form actionable plans for acquiring new technology, updating old technology, and using technology strategically to reach goals. In short, businesses must learn how to develop a technology roadmap in order to thrive.
Fundera recently conducted a study using data to predict the 10 most profitable industries in the next 10 years. Of their 10 Businesses to Start Now to Be Rich in a Decade, technology came in first. According to Fundera, “Technology leads the pack primarily because this sector overlaps with other industries.” For most companies and fields, technological systems and innovations will be driving forces of growth.
Maintaining your current technology systems and using new technology to solve problems can help keep your business from falling behind. A technology roadmap can help you get ahead. At Sentient Digital, Inc., we use our expertise in technology solutions as well as project and program management to create and implement your customized technology roadmap. Find out how to develop a technology roadmap that drives your company’s strategic goals.
Why Develop a Technology Roadmap?
While it takes time and effort to create and use a technology roadmap, it is a critical part of a company’s strategic planning. Three of the top five strategic priorities for CIOs outlined by The Wall Street Journal CIO Network’s special report highlight the importance of technology in strategic planning.
If you obtain new technology systems without incorporating a business plan to strategically use them, then your efforts to stay ahead of the technological curve will likely underperform. Instead, you will end up draining your resources without getting the returns you wanted for your investment. Your business needs a plan to both implement and maintain technology features that streamline daily operations and achieve long-term goals.
A clearly defined technology roadmap helps to eliminate reactionary cycles. Rather than waiting for problems to arise before improving your technology systems, you can create a clear timeline for acquiring the technology to address inefficiencies and work toward company objectives.
Additionally, a technology roadmap connects everyone from top management to entry-level staff in a unified effort to supply your target audience with an unparalleled experience and achieve your organization’s goals. There is often a disconnect between an organization’s I.T. department and its business leaders, but it is essential that these two departments work together. The CIO Network report also found that the majority of CIOs are concerned with “delivering change through effective communication with the rest of the business.”
When you know how to develop a technology roadmap, you’re able to merge the expertise of both these departments. Your business development team has a deep understanding of your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). But it lacks the technological proficiency to put its vision into action.
By contrast, I.T. professionals have the skill sets to enact innovation. However, they lack a comprehensive view of your company and its vision. When you merge each department’s knowledge and abilities into one plan for where your organization is headed and how it’s going to get there, your company is positioned for success.
Questions to Ask Before Making Your Technology Roadmap
If you want to know how to develop a technology roadmap efficiently, you have to understand your goals and current technology systems. You cannot achieve your objectives until they are clearly defined. Similarly, you must assess the current state of your organization’s technology assets before you can determine how to use technology to meet your goals.
Consider asking your business leaders, I.T. staff, and any other relevant parties the following questions:
- How old is your I.T. software?
- How long have you been using your I.T. assets?
- Are you satisfied with their performance?
- From a business development perspective, what would you like to see from I.T.?
- What is your organization’s current fiscal output on I.T. strategies?
- Do you feel that you’re gaining an appropriate amount of benefit from the expense?
- Are your technology systems interdependent? Do any rely on outside systems?
- Are your applications interdependent? Do any rely on outside applications?
- Can you define your company’s standard model of operations, or do you feel it needs to be clarified?
By bringing together multiple departments to answer these questions, you begin to bridge the communication and knowledge gaps between them. Once your company’s needs, objectives, and technology are understood, you can develop a technology roadmap that maximizes your technological investments.
How to Develop a Technology Roadmap
First, Choose a Technology Roadmap Type
Using the information from your internal audit, your company is ready for a comprehensive SWOT analysis of its current technological systems. This should inform your decision about the type of technology roadmap you need.
While your technology roadmap can and should be personalized to your company, it can be helpful to start with a predefined type. Architecture roadmaps and enterprise I.T. roadmaps are two common types of coexisting technology roadmaps your business may want to consider.
1. Architecture Roadmaps: Technology Roadmaps to Support Product Initiatives
If your goal is to execute technology efforts that support your product initiatives, your business could benefit from an architecture roadmap. In their book, Large-Scale Software Architecture: A Practical Guide Using UML, Jeff Garland and Richard Anthony describe the purpose of an architecture roadmap: “To manage the selection of technologies and software products used in the [company’s] current product, and to develop a plan for evolving these technologies as the product evolves.”
Your architecture roadmap will coincide with your product roadmap, because the two are codependent. As you plan the strategies and goals for your product, you will need to plan for its technologies as well.
When creating an architecture roadmap, keep in mind your product releases, your industry’s evolving trends and standards, and any timelines you may have for updating your website or online storefront. Your architecture roadmap is a long-term program for continually optimizing your products and services through technology, so they remain engaging and relevant in our digital society.
2. Enterprise I.T. Roadmaps: Technology Roadmaps for Organizational Goals
Enterprise I.T. roadmaps, on the other hand, serve as long-term technology plans to internally support your organization’s operations, bottom line, and overall goals. Unlike an architecture roadmap, an enterprise I.T. roadmap goes beyond the products and services you offer.
An enterprise I.T. roadmap gives your company insight into your I.T. department’s various undertakings and your organization’s enterprise software. It allows you to organize, prioritize, and strategize your I.T. department’s different internal initiatives.
In particular, consider internal technology systems, solutions, and security in this plan. If your company has been struggling to improve its cash flow, for instance, you might prioritize streamlining your payment and billing systems. This could allow you to send bills out and process incoming payments faster.
Most businesses would also benefit from collecting, analyzing, and applying business intelligence more efficiently. While business intelligence is an extremely valuable way to keep your products and services competitive, your team will also need to prioritize supporting your business intelligence with cyber security—or risk disastrous consequences. An enterprise I.T. roadmap should help you plan accordingly for such internal technology initiatives and any necessary support.
Then, Create a Task List for Your Technology Roadmap
Once you have clearly defined your goals and determined the type of roadmap that will best allow you to achieve them, you can create a task list. Your task list is a step-by-step plan illustrating exactly when and how you’re going to achieve your goals.
At this stage of development, your technology roadmap incorporates timelines and responsibilities for goal achievement. You can ensure cross-departmental cohesion by assigning defined duties to specific players throughout your business.
This process is designed to identify what needs to be done, when it will be done, and who is best equipped to do it. While the exact process will depend on your organization and the type and scope of its technology roadmap, there are four basic steps that can aid you in making your task list:
- Break down long-term goals into short-term projects. This makes tasks easier to organize, manage, and assign.
- Research which technologies would support your goals. For example, if your business is growing, you are likely seeking new and innovative technologies to advance your organization’s competitive edge. However, if your company is shrinking, you may be seeking cost-effective, comprehensive technologies that reduce your expenses by eliminating the need for multiple applications.
- Assign tasks to the people best equipped to accomplish them. This should take into account not only ability but also capacity. You may need to revisit this step as employees’ workloads shift.
- Set measurable ways to determine if your technology roadmap allowed you to achieve your goals. By defining S.M.A.R.T. objectives (goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound), you should have clear criteria to evaluate your technology roadmap and its implementation.
Don’t make the mistake of rigidly adhering to the technology roadmap you set out with initially if it’s no longer serving your interests. If your goals or capacity change, update your roadmap accordingly. Remember, your technology roadmap is set in place to help you achieve your organization’s goals. Make sure it’s always working for the benefit of your company.
It’s common for a technology roadmap to span 18 months, though your timeline should be personalized to consider your scope, objectives, and capacity. This duration is typically long enough to make sure you complete a long-term plan, while also allowing for reassessment to ensure that your technology roadmap is still relevant along the way.
Contact SDi to Create and Implement Your Technology Roadmap
While the abundance of business intelligence in this Age of Information can guide your business’ operations, it can be all too easy for companies to fall prey to overanalysis, leading to paralysis and indecision. Lack of experience with technology roadmaps, bias, and the tendency to prioritize customer or client work over internal planning are also frequent obstacles organizations face when trying to make and enact their own roadmaps.
Want to gain all the benefits of a technology roadmap while acting quickly, efficiently, and with far less time and effort required from your team? Sentient Digital, Inc. provides the expertise, objectivity, and manpower needed to develop a technology roadmap and perform the technology solutions it outlines.
We help you sort through data and use technology to your advantage. Our experts know how to design personalized technology roadmaps and solutions that transform data into actionable strategies. With an agile mindset and aggressive approach, we are ready and able to help you meet your company’s goals.
Don’t waste your resources on ineffective technology or get bogged down in the planning phase. Contact us online or call Sentient Digital, Inc. today at (504) 308-1464 to develop a technology roadmap and implement technology solutions for your company.