How to build a technology strategy

The CIO Panel
Prof Simon Orebi Gann, director, Next Generation Data, former CIO of BA and senior IT executive at Marks & Spencer
David Jack, David Jack, CIO, The Trainline, former director of engineering at Betfair
Dr Peter Chadha, Chief Technology Officer at The Office Group, former director, Technology Consulting at BDO

Technology strategy is tricky territory because it is both intimately tied to the broader aims of business and conversely executed in the nitty gritty of technical detail.

Technologists tied up in day-to-day operations may be lulled into thinking concentrating on point solutions constitutes a  strategy.

In contrast to fluffy thinking shaped by acronyms and buzzwords, tech strategy calls for clarity and boldness, recommends Professor Simon Orebi Gann, former CIO of BA and designer of LIFFE Connect, a global automated trading platform.

He cites the Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus as an inspiration for chiefs tasked with developing tech strategy.

“No one crossed a chasm in two small leaps”.

Seasoned CIOs know that technology and business strategies are intimately linked and this can make unpicking the technology piece more difficult: technology is both a servant of IT enabling efficient delivery of business goals, and an innovative force for business.

Related:

To act as if they are divorced would result in tech strategy hitting road blocks and business missing out on commercial opportunities.

Happily, if you go with the assumption that both need to be developed in tandem, our experts believe it is possible to separate out thinking about tech strategy. Our panellists give their expert opinions.

Put it on paper
The technology strategy is likely to be the focus for a tech company, or a subset or interchangeable with the IT strategy, in most large organisations.

In SMBs, there’s often no strategy beyond a plan that’s in someone’s head. Formalising it and putting it into a document not only gives it more gravitas but crucially tests the thinking behind it.

Bringing everything together in one place encourages reflection and the necessary challenge to ensure the content is truly In short, this gestation period of documenting a plan can elevate it to a strategy. (PC)

Process, process, process
The strategy or plan doesn’t have to follow a particular process, but there must be a process.