IT infrastructure is the foundation for executing business strategy in today’s rapidly changing business world. An ill-planned, aged, or under-developed IT infrastructure will hamper a business, forcing employees to continually work harder while the business loses ground. A well designed IT infrastructure is a platform from which businesses grow – enabling smart decision-making, agility, and ingenuity.
These are some of the telltale signs of a shaky IT infrastructure foundation:
- Data is difficult to gather or isn’t available at all. Data that is available is inconsistent across the company.
- New initiatives or business requirements demand a significant investment of time and capital.
- Changes to IT infrastructure are difficult to implement, slowing reactions to changing market conditions
- There is inconsistency in business processes across the company
- Key business operations and processes are largely manual, requiring major efforts of human capital
- The value of IT is unclear
Building a strong IT foundation takes time, good planning, patience, flexibility, and requires buy-in at the highest levels. Decision makers must be aware of key business operations in all areas, be focused on company-wide objectives, and agree on what capabilities are needed to succeed. The goal of building a strong foundation is streamlined operations, better information, and less time spent managing routine activities or responding to operational issues.
This can be accomplished by:
- Utilizing technology to convert core operations into digital – largely automated – processes
- Standardizing on systems designed to integrate seamlessly with one another, allowing for business agility
- Focusing on building a platform of IT capabilities rather than IT solutions, enabling ingenuity
Building a solid IT infrastructure as a business foundation creates a platform that provides consistent, company-wide metrics, allowing for informed, meaningful decision-making. A well planned IT infrastructure enables rapid adjustments to strategy and operations in response to market changes. Lastly, digitizing core operations frees up human capital to focus on growth and creativity rather than process management.
Core concepts of this article are derived from chapter 1 of the excellent book, Enterprise Architecture as Strategy.
Ross, Jeanne W., Peter Weill, and David Robertson. "CH 1." Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School, 2006. N. pag. Print.