The Technology Roadmap

By David Roberts

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Most organizations have gone to great lengths (and great expenses) to develop a detailed corporate strategy. Multiple authors espousing frameworks and methodologies to help managers develop a direction for their organization line the business shelves of bookstores.

Whether they look outside the firm or inside the firm, managers continually search for an 'instruction manual' for sustained growth and profitability. While reflecting on strategic issues is valuable, a critical question remains unanswered -- "How do I activate the corporate strategy?"

To build momentum toward the pursuit of corporate objectives, organizations must exploit those competencies that enable corporate strategy. Enabling competencies do not create competitive advantages per se, as all companies can invest in these types of capabilities. However, organizations that successfully link and synergize these underlying competencies with corporate strategy can build incredible, long-term advantages.

Yet, technology is a critical enabling competency that most organizations fail to utilize as a catalyst for corporate strategy.

While technology has enabled corporations to develop compelling new offerings, proactively improve customer experiences, and build more collaborative cultures internally, it is often difficult for companies to sustain a strategic commitment to technology. Organizations of all sizes all face similar challenges in focusing strategic attention on technological competencies.

To help address these and other organizational roadblocks, companies need a technology roadmap -- a detailed plan that outlines how technology can be leveraged over a set timeframe to better enable corporate strategy.

The roadmap can be used to track the overall strategic alignment of technology to the business or it can be applied to a specific technology application, such as an Intranet portal, wireless application, or CRM technologies.

The roadmap links technology to corporate strategy in the steps outlined below:

  • First, it clarifies the current state of organizational technology by assessing past project success and current cultural barriers. This picture provides managers with an order-of-magnitude perspective as to the resources required and potential barriers to adoption that align technology to the business.
  • Second, the Roadmap clarifies and articulates a common, long-term (one-to-three years) vision of what technology can and should do to move the organization toward its stated business goals. This perspective includes key milestones of maturation and the organizational and technological interdependencies required to support this evolution.
  • Finally, the Roadmap develops a short-term (three-to-six month) action plan to address critical issues. The action plan focuses on the immediate resolution of the identified obstacles to the use of technology as strategic enabler for the organization. Specifically, it prioritizes key initiatives and provides plans to complete the initiatives in a defined time frame. The roadmap lays out a framework for governance and accountability structures, cross-functional development, prioritization processes, program management, and user-needs identification.
  • As organizations go through the roadmap process and implement the action plan, business owners outside of technology begin to appreciate and recognize the manner in which technology can drive organizational success.

    The process of developing the roadmap engages cross-discipline leaders into its development, which begins the process of developing buy-in and communicating business value across the organization.

    As corporations look to activate their corporate strategy, technology will continue to play an increasing role in meeting organizational goals. To better align technology with the strategy, organizations must assess current technology environments and make informed decisions about their platforms (both technologies and processes).

    The technology roadmap facilitates this process while outlining key technology, business, and resource decisions that need to be made while aligning technology more closely to corporate strategy.

    David Roberts is a founding Principal with Acquity Group, an e-business consultancy that develops e-commerce, enterprise portal and content management solutions for Global 2000 accounts. He can be reached at 312-427-2040.