Whether you call it the Digital Age or the Information Age, there’s no denying that technology is now an important part of our day to day activities – and businesses are no exception. It has been used in generation of business models, visualizing products and services, and even monitoring the supply chain for an organization.
For business entities to remain relevant in today’s market, they have to facilitate processing of information at speeds provided by the current age. Unfortunately, IT strategies and msp marketing in business settings are often treated as an afterthought added on the sides of the more traditional business plan.
To be able to maximize these different but complementary strategies, it’s better to grasp a rudimentary understanding of their differences and why one has to be an integral part of the other.
A Business Strategy, also known as Corporate or Organizational Strategy, is often defined as the total of all generated plans, taken decisions, and actions performed by a business organization towards the accomplishment of the goals it has identified. Basically, the goal of business strategies is to improve profit by increasing presence or securing a more competitive competition in its market.
It serves as the guide for the entire organization as it contains the overall roadmap towards achieving the set goals. Usually, it also covers segments and strategies for each department to ensure they remain efficient and aligned with the overall objectives.
Levels of Business Strategies
A Business Strategy is often divided into three levels:
- The Corporate Level is the broadest and the highest level. It includes the mission and vision of the entire organization.
- The Business Unit Level is slightly more specific than the Corporate Level and corresponds to a specific business unit. It usually refers to a section of an organization that is focused on a specific product or location.
- The Functional Level are the strategies employed by specific departments under each unit. These strategies are specific and cover particular lines of work within the organization. Functional level strategies focus on day to day operations which serve as the building blocks towards the attainment of corporate-level goals.
Importance of Business Strategies
A well-developed business strategy vital in keeping a business entity afloat, if not directly competitive in the current market. Here are some of the reasons why your business needs to have a concrete business strategy.
- Identifying your Strengths and Weaknesses – in identifying the goals that the organization wants to attain, the team gets to understand which strengths they can further capitalize on and the weaknesses they need to work on.
- Business strategies give more clarity on your business plan. Where the plan sets your goals, the strategy defines how you will get there.
- With a well-defined strategy, every resource and asset will be allocated in advance, every part of the organization well-directed. These practices drastically increase the efficiency of each unit and the effectiveness of every plan once implemented.
- Once the organization’s strengths are capitalized, these can easily be leveraged as their competitive advantage and place the company’s brand in a unique style appealing to the market.
- With a guide to follow, every step of the organization towards the realization of its goals can easily be tracked and monitored. In the event that changes have to be made, they can be made with control and maintain the progress on course.
On the other hand, an Information Technology (IT) Strategy refers to plans and decisions geared towards the creation and continuous improvement of and IT capability for the organization. Also known as Tech Strategy or Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Strategy, it focuses on identifying the best course of action in establishing an IT support team for the company which offers maximum profitability, efficiency, and sustainability.
There are differing procedures in establishing an IT strategy. The more traditional, or classic, approach focuses on a structured process in understanding the organization’s long-term IT requirements. A plan is then generated around satisfying these needs. Generally, the classic approach goes similar to the following procedure:
- Identifying the business capabilities needed over a future time frame. These IT capabilities are intended to support the strategy and turn its vision into reality.
- Assessing the gap between the current state of the company against each target capability to understand the requirements.
- Understanding how technology can not only provide the capabilities needed, but also help bridge the gap between the current state and the level required for the vision to be realized.
- Designing the target technology to contain and handle the IT capabilities targeted.
- Assessing this time the gap between the current and the target technology architecture.
- Developing a customized roadmap towards the target technology architecture.
Initially, companies following the classical approach to developing an IT strategy plot their plans over a timeframe of three to five years. However, with the increasingly rapid pacing at which technology grows and develops, this will leave companies at a dragging cat-and-mouse chase with their objectives. Once they meet their first-planned targets, the technology has already changed and will render their targets obsolete. Moreover, focusing on long-term goals limits the organization’s capacity to take drastic measures on short notice.
Now, a new approach towards IT Strategies are focused on speed and agility to keep the organization relevant in the dynamic markets commonplace in this Information Age. In considering speed and agility, the organization is then guided towards devising strategies that can respond to the quick changes in the market and in the technology available.
Why Should We Align the IT and the Business Strategies?
To put it simply, having the IT and Business strategies aligned improves the business – better allocation of resources, earning a competitive advantage, and turning more profit. This alignment streamlines processes and improves your entire supply chain. Aligning both strategies is not as simple as concatenating both in a single file or document.
In practice, aligning them means that plans for investing in additional IT capabilities have to be geared towards acquiring and improving business value. This means that IT must be an integral part in every step of the business strategy. Conversely, IT has to be defined by meeting business metrics and objectives instead of IT metrics. In the end, managed it services will share an increased business accountability in the same way that the business managers will have to step up technologically.