Updated: Jan 10
Part 0 of 5 Series : Introduction
Let's start with business strategy...I know, "yawn", but if it wasn't for sound business strategies, technology would have no commercial purpose. Business strategy is all about finding a problem to solve within a chosen market, designing exactly how your technology solves that problem in a novel way, and then crafting an approach to sell into those chosen markets, leaving any competition in the proverbial dust. Easy, right? Answering some fundamental questions that tie technology to the problem being solved is the first step to launching a successful tech business. At their heart, the questions we all deal with are Business 101, and those MBA classes have taught us that IT is basically a cost center that should be managed as efficiently and predictably as possible, but this has changed. Traditionally, data centers (and IT teams) were treated as necessary expenses, meant to define, install, and manage the corporate technology environment. Servers and network infrastructure were installed, configured with standardized software, and then "switched on" for employees to utilize. They were expected to run, and a "good" IT team made it so. In the case of software companies, the tools for
developing, testing, and releasing product were also purchased and integrated into this ecosystem. Operating costs were fairly easy to plan and more-or-less fixed, depending on your business. IT staff would plan their day-to-day schedules around "keeping the lights on" and making sure plans were in place to react when problems occurred. When hardware fails, replace it. When software has bugs, patch it. When a new customer signs up, install product and configure licenses. When a server crashes, restore it. Etc. It's true that these tasks continue to be the responsibility of competent IT departments, and outsourcing IT operations has evolved into a very sound business model. However, the days of the “install, store, and maintain" IT cost center are long gone. As many of us are experiencing first-hand, the IT landscape has fundamentally exploded and expanded into every corner of your business, and companies that fail to recognize the impacts of strategic IT decisions on their business model are simply doomed. Customers have crossed a definitive line, becoming more educated on cloud environments, analytics, databases, software development, and in some cases even managing their own AI and data initiatives. The public cloud providers make it “easy” to sign on and play with a myriad of new tools and applications. Consequently, customers are asking tougher questions about data center build-outs, hosting architectures, security, analytics, and even your third-party relationships. In other words, how and why your company installs, configures, monitors, and even recovers their corporate and production environments now influences your ability to sell product. Further, significant one-time expenses have become more frequent and impactful, and they must be planned for. To name a few, SOC audits, security assessments, penetration tests, 3rd party audits from Microsoft and Oracle, and breach-related expenses, Plus regular operating costs have also gone crazy: code repositories, remote disks, backup services, outsourced testing, cloud services, app stores, code scanning tools, security insurance, and 24/7 monitoring services just to name a few! What should your company choose, when, why, and for how much? In this five-part series, we will tap into some of the strategies that have worked for me and my colleagues, and I’d appreciate hearing your feedback on them. After all, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to business strategy, and working IT into your business fabric is definitely non-trivial. The questions that we will explore apply technology decisions directly from a c-level commercial direction in very practical ways. We will look at it from the top down through a "sense and respond" lens. For example, what are your board's financial goals and exit strategy? What are customers looking for in your products and what are your acquisition/organic growth objectives? Who are the competitors and what is the status of your products against them? Finally, are you secure? In each case, we are sensing what the business needs, and responding with an impactful IT insight. If the board and exec team are doing a decent job, business perspectives have IT components to them, with very important tech goals that everyone understands and supports. The exec team has to figure out where to invest the company's capital in people, space, and technology, now with additional technology twists in the equation. Further, business strategy is not necessarily about the actions themselves; Rather, it’s about the “why” around the actions. Your answers to these questions can lead to won and lost deals, and canceled contracts. Support calls with customers pull in subject matter experts, architects, and even developers (who we all know just LOVE to talk to customers). This new, direct connection between business direction, technology, and customer has evolved into a complex, fluidic, and volatile playing field. So how do we handle this new and evolving world? Yes it's very complex, with many paths that often require expert help to navigate. However, there is hope, which is really the focus of this series.
Thanks for reading the introduction Part 0 of my 5 part series only found with VNCTech
Group's all-inclusive membership. The following Parts 1-5 coming soon will dive deep into much more detail - I look forward to receiving your feedback.