In the first part of this series, I explained the need to understand how mid-market organizations are currently spending their money on information technology (IT). In part two, I have listed the steps that organizations should focus on if they want to shift their current spending from, “keeping the lights on,” to innovating their business.
The seven steps to consider are:
- Form an innovation team. A team should be assembled and meet regularly to identify ways to leverage disruptive technologies. The team should have a charter and a defined budget that have been approved by senior leadership. Members should include personnel from multiple levels in the company and several different generations. There should be a mix of seasoned business experts and raw, young talent who understand and embrace new technologies. The charter of this team should include the mantra to identify ways to destroy your business.
- Benchmark competitors. How a company competes in the marketplace will provide a framework for what makes its products or services distinctive―and will help focus the team’s efforts to identify opportunities. This benchmarking, unlike traditional benchmarking, is not to copy and leverage others ideas. It is to make sure we understand how our product or service competes in the market.
- Align with the company’s go-to-market strategy. With proper due diligence, analysis and review, organizations can ensure that IT resources are aligned with business requirements. Make sure that your IT investments support your core business strategy. Ask your customer and other stakeholders how your company’s products or services compete in the marketplace. Is it the lowest cost? Is it simply the best product or service? Do people love the product or service because of the customer service and experience they receive? Unless you want to totally reinvent your business, understanding how you currently compete and win is important to your innovation team.
- Prioritize the team’s ideas. Consider placing a higher priority on those ideas that directly support how the company competes in the market. Ensure that ideas are implementable and make sure the team thinks about the impact of these ideas and how the results can be measured. Leverage low-cost customer focus groups to validate these ideas before investing resources in their implementation.
- Develop an IT roadmap. The best ideas should be included on a dynamic, IT roadmap. This roadmap should include approved, prioritized IT projects for the next one-to-three years. The roadmap should be reviewed on a quarterly basis by an IT steering committee comprised of personnel from upper-level management. This roadmap should include a balance of projects designed to eliminate technology debt and those designed to innovate.
- Test your Ideas. Pilot, and pilot some more, before making any significant investments.
- Implement, measure results and make adjustments. After a successful pilot and initial market rollout, it is important to measure the results of your investment and report your findings to your company’s leadership team. Without a measureable payback, it may be difficult to continue this investment. Make adjustments to your IT roadmap to improve your product or service.
These steps are certainly not a ‘silver bullet’ but they provide a general framework to get started. I truly believe the prediction made by the IDC and when I think about this prediction and look at the myriad of examples already coming into the marketplace, I believe this decade will be remembered for offering the most prolific innovation in our lifetime. Mid-market companies are positioned as well as anyone to reap the benefits of this innovation.