Create a Strategic I&T Roadmap for Digital Success

Traditional I&T roadmaps fail to adjust to new business opportunities and threats.

Clare knows it is her role to strategically shape the I&T plan in a coherent way for the business. She has to do it correctly, but she is concerned. According to Gartner, fewer than 30% of CIOs believe their I&T strategic planning is effective or very effective in delivering business objectives.

Similar to a GPS, the strategic roadmap establishes the direction of travel, but the exact route can change along the way

“The strategic I&T roadmap is like a GPS for the organization’s digital strategy,” says Ed Gabrys, Gartner research director at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Cape Town, South Africa. “Similar to a GPS, the strategic roadmap establishes the direction of travel, but the exact route can change along the way.”

Like Clare, CIOs must decide the I&T direction that underpins their organization’s present and future digital ambitions, ensure it improves existing business activities and create an I&T investment strategy that supports their enterprise’s strategic direction.

Incorporate two key steps into your development of a strategic I&T roadmap.

Step 1: Understand your organization’s digital ambition

Clarify the digital business strategy and work with business leaders to define digital ambitions. Ask questions such as “What does ‘digital’ mean to the business leaders?” “How likely is digital disruption?” “What is our competitive stance in terms of culture, risk profile and appetite for change?”

The I&T roadmap is about investments

The answers should clearly identify targeted digital business results and what I&T capabilities can help achieve them. “The CIO can align I&T direction and resources to achieve the desired strategic intent,” says Gabrys.

Step 2: Determine the I&T investment plan

Once you define the digital ambition, determine the distribution of investments necessary to achieve that digital ambition.

“The I&T roadmap is not about sorting project lists. The I&T roadmap is about investments,” says Gabrys.

Consider investing in three portfolio categories:

  • Transformation portfolios: These include exploratory or game-changing innovations designed to deliver digital business capabilities that seek to offer deeper customer insights from which to generate new revenue.
  • Optimization portfolios: These include digital capabilities used to improve operations, customer experience or existing products and services.
  • Enablement portfolios: These extend and defend the core business by preserving existing operations or making small adjustments to current business processes.

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Some CIOs may decide to mix digital business optimization and transformation. If you are thinking of doing this, first look outside your organization. If your industry is going through disruptive change, set a transformation course. If your industry is not undergoing a transformation, you have the option of pursuing a business optimization course.

“It’s Clare’s responsibility as the CIO to work with the executive team to develop a clear vision of where to go with the organization’s digital strategy. Otherwise, the organization may end up making incoherent investments that fail to achieve strategic goals,” says Gabrys.

Gartner clients can read more in “Why Digital CIOs Need a Strategic I&T Roadmap” by Ed Gabrys et al.

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