Why a big picture, strategic IT approach in 2019?
Five key inclusions to consider when building an IT strategy.
Every year, experts from vertical industries, consulting firms and technology providers share their forecasts of the top topics that will be making headlines and drive IT sales. The lists profile innovative solutions that are creating buzz and gaining sales momentum. This grocery list-approach to IT investments underscores one of the faults in today's adoption trends: where's the strategy?
According to Jane Thomson, Managing Director of EOH Infor Services, Infor's Master Partner in Africa (operating as a Gold Partner), there are five key elements that 2019 IT strategies must include.
The first is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) upgrade. "In this era of fast change and sweeping digital innovation, staying on the newest version of the enterprise's ERP is essential. Updating the core ERP will help the organisation set strategies in sync with the industry best practices; without the time and expense of a totally new implementation," confirms Thomson.
"If the ERP currently in use is outdated, however, it's time to move forward with ERP that is better suited to long-term needs. Attempting to move into the digital era with an outdated ERP as the backbone will be frustrating. A modern ERP will have features like artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics built-in, eliminating the need to bolt-on separate solutions."
The second is to deploy in the cloud. "Moving to cloud deployment is now more important than ever. To take advantage of Internet of things (IOT) functionality, the elastic storage capacity of cloud computing is needed," she adds. Cloud deployment also ensures "always modern" functionality as solutions are continually updated, eliminating the need for upgrades.
Ensuring integration is the third essential strategic element. "When considering a point solution, which can offer tremendous add-on value, be sure it can be fully integrated to the ERP and that supports full visibility. Purchasing suites of solutions that are from the same vendor and manage data the same way will eliminate possible compatibility issues from disrupting reporting," advises Thomson.
The fourth element is to rely on partners. "Adopting digital concepts can be complex. Eliminating modifications from legacy solutions, migrating data, incorporating robotics and automation equipment, and building new revenue streams are typical elements; each one requiring expertise. Turning to industry consultants service providers with deployment experience is a logical and beneficial alternative. Expertise derived from previous deployments will help the organisation avoid common pitfalls and follow tactics that are proven and field-tested."
Lastly, stay up-to-date. "The strategic plan should be highly flexible to accommodate fast-changing market conditions. Agility is critical. Build checkpoints into the plan to review the approach and adjust as needed. Strategic planning can no longer be a static, rigid frame that is created once a year and then abandoned," concludes Thomson. "The right strategy is the first step - but its benefits will be short-lived if it isn't put into practice. Get started early, be thorough and inclusive."