A clear Technology Roadmap is a great tool for ensuring your technology is working for you and your organisation. Here are five steps your CTO can take towards a sound strategy.
Align technology decisions with business objectives
Your strategy needs to clearly address your business objectives. Your priorities may include rapid growth, attracting enterprise customers, or entering new markets; any strategy you choose should reflect these priorities. Identify your business goals, and ask yourself what your technology strategy is doing to meet those goals.
Know your team’s capabilities
Be realistic! If you are targeting enterprise customers but don’t have the capability to clearly answer RFP documents, or lack a good grounding in information security, you need to establish a feasible path to get access to those skills. Will you train your current staff? Or make new hires to expand your team’s skill base?
Be realistic about timeframes too – training existing team members takes time and they may not initially have a strong interest in these areas.
The quickest and cheapest method for acquiring these skills is to bring in an expert and have them work with your team for a fixed period. They can cross train, and demonstrate by example the standard your staff should be aiming for. To this end, you should have a strong idea of what an expert in these areas looks like.
Aim to introduce new value
A successful strategy should introduce new value to your business. Your business strategy will have multiple horizons – make sure your technology strategy does too. Do serious work on items that will add value to the bottom line this year, some work toward future projects that will add value next year or the year after, and minimal work on POC ideas that may be the future of your company in 5 years (or may never see the light of day). Can you make your business more efficient by mobilising staff or customers? Will AI allow you to automate an aspect of existing business processes? A great strategy will bring technology into the consciousness of your business.
Communicate to audiences at all levels
Once your strategy is well-defined you must be ready to communicate it to everyone in the business. This means making sure that it is presented in a format appropriate to the needs of those receiving it. A written document will work well for those who want high levels of detail, but will not suit being presented in an executive meeting. Create a one-page visual that you can pull out for use in one-on-one situations, and a 3-page power point for executive team members to use in their own presentations. For audiences that may need more detail, design a larger presentation with more small picture content. I have found prezi to be excellent for communicating strategy – it is interactive, and allows you to jump to different parts of your presentation based on your audience’s specific interests and the direction your discussion takes.
Technology strategies in particular need to be updated regularly. New options are becoming available at such a rapid pace that no tech strategy can remain 100% relevant for too long. Thoughtwork’s tech radar (https://www.thoughtworks.com/radar) is an excellent source of information – look at it regularly to see where trends are going. In the tech industry new ways of doing things are constantly being developed. Some can safely be ignored, while others could change the way you do business for the better. Determining what to pay attention to is a skill you must develop both in yourself and in your team.