Far too many business leaders fail to look at their IT infrastructure in a deeper way that goes beyond simple dollars and cents. They think "If I'm spending X number of dollars on a piece of equipment, it needs to generate at least Y dollars in return to be a worthy investment." While this makes sense on paper, it fails to uncover the bigger picture: that technology is a valuable long-term business asset when executed strategically.
This is one of the many reasons why knowing where your business stands on the Tech maturity scale is so important. Remember - nobody starts out on the scale at level 3. Rome wasn't built in a day, and your foundation of optimised IT resources won't be, either. Based on how you're using IT today, the scale will give you a "bigger picture" understanding of the effects of what you've already done and, most critically, what you still have left to do to in terms of your business strategy to get where you need to be.
Maturity Level 1: Foundation
If your business falls on this first level of the IT maturity scale, you likely either have very little or no evidence of some of the following activities happening within this category. While you may have had some modest discussions with your team over how to use your IT resources and why they're important, you probably don't have any documented plans in place to back that up. You also likely lack the dedicated resources or commitments from key stakeholders to really take your IT efforts to the next level.
- Your business' use of IT is largely reactive, meaning that you're only focusing on using IT to address challenges that have already happened as opposed to mitigating future risk.
- As a result, you're only experiencing short-term gains.
- Your IT focus tends to be on urgent and reoccurring issues. You have a problem; you use IT to solve it. Rinse, repeat.
- You've only been using IT to remove immediate performance barriers. You needed to be able to share information in the cloud; you can now share information in the cloud. Very little additional thought is put into it.
- You're having a very difficult time predicting your costs. Even something like a storage upgrade comes out of the blue and is a potentially massive blow to your budget.
Maturity Level 2: Stability
If your business reaches this level of the IT maturity scale, the processes and the ways in which you're using technology are a little more defined, understood and finely implemented than before. You've begun to put a little more thought into what resources you need, what they're supposed to do and why they matter beyond simple dollars and cents.
- You've begun to take a more proactive approach to IT. You're now concerned with putting the resources in place to maintain a stable and controlled environment.
- You've started carefully planning your IT deployments in a way that guarantees reliability and predictability.
- You've begun to do more proactive maintenance on your resources, which, as a result, makes ROI easier to measure.
- You've begun a basic level of IT governance, meaning that you likely have some type of documentation over how resources can and cannot be used by employees.
- You've begun to enjoy the benefits of predictable costs. You can better anticipate what you'll be spending before you actually spend it.
- There is now some alignment with your IT resources and your larger business objectives. IT is now about more than just "getting online."
Maturity Level 3: Advantage
If you're lucky enough to reach this stage in the scale, you no longer work for your IT - your IT works for you. Thanks to a rock solid foundation of well-defined processes and inputs, you now have strong connections between IT and related business processes. You're also now likely enjoying some or all of the following benefits:
- You're in the best possible position to use IT to achieve very specific business outcomes.
- The technology you've already invested in is being actively used to give your organization a competitive advantage.
- IT governance is in place, including advanced concepts like BYOD device policies, end-user security and more.
- Not only are you enjoying predictable (and often fixed) costs, but your ROI on your technology spend has also been maximized.
- Nimble IT organization. You've reached a point where you're only paying for what you're actually using and no technological resources are wasted.
- A superior level of IT and business collaboration has begun to optimize larger business processes across the board.
- There are programs in place that allow you to systematically optimize business processes. You're using technology to automate certain menial tasks so that your employees can get back to doing the most important thing of all: driving your business forward.
Where Does Your Business Stand?
The maturity of your business IT tells you a great deal more than just how long it will be before it's time for another equipment upgrade. In many ways, it's a guide that shows you how well your existing IT resources are aligned with your current and future goals.
This is one of the many reasons why hiring IT consultants is such an important step to take. You're doing more than just selecting a solutions provider - you're generating the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing both that your technological foundation can support the business you're trying to run today AND that it will allow you to grow and evolve into the organization you hope to be spearheading tomorrow. If you want to reach level 3 on the maturity scale, hiring a consultant is the best way to do it. Take the Tech Maturity Assessment below and diagnose where your business sits.
If you'd like to find out more about the business IT maturity scale, or if you have any additional questions about IT consultations in general, please feel free to contact Lanrex today.