Technology the Strategy Game
When I was growing up, there was something almost institutional about the films and TV I watched. It seemed that every holiday period, James Bond would be aired. And no matter what I was doing, I had to watch it.
Never Say Never Again starring Sean Connery as Bond was one of the most memorable for me. There is a particular scene where he is matched against Maximillion Largo in a video game called Domination.
The first time I watched the film, I was waiting for one of them to shout out “You Sunk My Battleship”! (Who says subliminal advertising doesn’t work…)
Yes, 007 always won, even when he was ‘expected to die’. This might have to do with Hollywood formula predominantly, but for me it was the type of technology he used, and the strategy he had for it, that played the biggest part.
These days, you need to have a strategy for technology (I’m talking less worldwide domination here, more on a modest level for your business).
The technology industry is moving forwards at an incredible pace – think of all the announcements Microsoft have been making recently – Office on iPad (although that one was a long time coming), Server 2014 and Azure Intelligent Systems, new versions of applications like Microsoft Dynamics CRM ….the list goes on.
Previously Microsoft worked with a 3 or 4 year cycle, but they now fall in line with other vendors like Sage.
Why the change? Well from an agile development perspective it makes things easier; everyone is on the same page as to when new updates and features are going to be released. But, it can make it difficult for customers when faced with a barrage of new options.
When I was growing up my brother, being older, always showed astute characteristics and strategic thinking.
The types of games he used play were chess and strategy games. I think that in today’s technology led environment, a similar mental mind-set is now needed.
It’s about playing the long game, and making moves that are tied into future moves. If you move your castle there, what opportunity will that create for your knight? You might not need mobility now in your business, but in 3 year's time, will you be opening another office?
Now’s the time to think about that in order to ensure your infrastructure can cope.
A short term aim might be to focus on your sales pipeline, and you need to look at some technology that can help you do that. But long term, you need a customer services strategy to deal with those new sales, so perhaps there’s some technology that can help you achieve both now, rather than trying to plug one into the other, and risk compatibility issues down the line.
To gain a competitive edge, you need to know what technology can help you pull your business forwards, and not for the short term. So if you’re looking at what’s available now, you need to make sure that it will be compatible with what you may need in the future.
For example, you might be using Microsoft Office at the moment, but you want to look at Cloud computing. Office 365 can give you mobility, but can also give you room to grow as you look to share information with your employees, using Microsoft SharePoint.
It’s all about looking at your business needs first, and then building the right technology strategy. I know from previous experience that choosing the right product for the job can be a minefield for customers.
For example, you have a requirement for employees who work in the field, and need to be able to work disconnected: should we go completely bespoke, or should we use a mainstream product in the cloud?
The best solution in that situation would be Microsoft Dynamics CRM because of its offline capabilities.
Working with a trusted partner is an important part of every customer’s technology strategy. A partner can help you choose the right product and if they’ve got good relationships with the vendors, they get insight into new features ahead of their launch.
They can then help you make strategic decisions on whether the features you currently require can wait for mainstream release, or whether your P&L will benefit from the bespoke development.
Product end of life dates are also a key part of any strategy; the last thing you want to do is invest a significant amount of your hard earned profit into something that will become expired in a year’s time!
The main benefit of having a technology strategy is the way it gives your company direction. You can align your business goals with the right software you need to achieve those goals, which will ultimately propel you forward.
So the next time you’re faced with a 007 villain of a problem about how to move your business forwards using technology, consider calling in a strategic partner to work out your chess moves, steer your battleship to victory and, to steal the slogan from a current advertising campaign, be more dog than cat!