Steward/Partner/Differentiator ContinuumBy Richard Brennan | Posted 2009-11-11 Print
If your IT strategy is underperforming, try focusing on capabilities that can help you execute that strategy.
• Stewards are the caretakers of the systems, focused on not allowing anything to go wrong with the technology on their watch. They take direction from the business with little input beyond costs and timeline projections, so their planning horizon is limited.
• Partners are active participants in the planning process, providing input into projects and offering alternatives and options. Their planning horizon is medium-term:typically 12 months. Partners seek to leverage existing capabilities—rather than develop new capabilities—to drive business results.
• Differentiators are active participants in the planning process, providing input into projects and offering alternatives and options. Their planning horizon is long-term, focusing on portfolios of projects geared toward delivering new capabilities to achieve competitive advantage.
Regardless of which category your technology organization falls into, it has capabilities that will constantly need to be refined and developed. The key to being successful is ensuring that the strategic role you choose for your organization supports the business strategy being developed.
If your business is in a low-end technology industry, you might be operating effectively in a steward role. On the other hand, if you operate in an industry that is a heavy user of technology—or technology is your product—you’d better be a strong differentiator. You need to determine where your technology organization is along this continuum and where it needs to be to make good on its business strategies.
When tied to business objectives and strategy, technology is an essential tool that improves performance and increases business value. IT should be considered in terms of the capabilities that are needed to realize business objectives. It’s your business objectives that define where you want to go, and, more often than not, it is IT capabilities that will help you get there.
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