Practical tips for building an IT strategy from the ground up

August 6, 20194 Minute Read

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The modern CIO or CTO role is evolving quickly, and it is now more crucial than ever to create an IT strategy that enables your team to keep up with the breakneck pace of digital transformation—and starting out is often the hardest part. Whether you’re a new CIO looking to get your house in order or a seasoned vet whose organization has recently outgrown your ability to forge an IT path as you go, you may find value in these practical tips for CIOs on building an IT strategy from the ground up.

1. Set goals for your IT strategy

Every IT strategy begins with a vision. Depending on your organization’s level of digital maturity, the industry in which it operates, and the unique business model it is pursuing, you will want to prioritize specific goals in the near and long term. Doing so can enhance the effectiveness of your IT strategy and help to ensure its alignment with the outcome you aim to achieve. With this in mind, consider creating a combination of short and long-term goals and tracking your progress against the goals over time.

For example, do you want to create greater agility within your team through IT automation? Then you may want to define this as a strategic goal and then outline ways of achieving that goal. One method could be to use AI-powered solutions to button up print security and other commonly overlooked aspects of endpoint security. If you’re concerned about the IT skills crunch affecting your IT team’s ability to deliver on its priorities, then you’ll want to set a goal related to overcoming that obstacle with effective professional development and recruitment strategies to match.

2. Conduct an IT audit

You must also conduct a comprehensive assessment of your environment before you can begin to build an IT strategy in earnest. With that in mind, it’s wise to perform a full IT audit of your current IT environment that spans everything from on-premises infrastructure to cloud services. An IT audit is admittedly not the most glamorous of tasks, but you will absolutely need one to confirm that you’re correctly prioritizing your IT initiatives.

An IT audit can highlight security vulnerabilities lurking in legacy systems like unpatched printers that hackers could exploit to gain entry into your network, potentially opening the door to a devastating data breach. Depending on your industry, you may be required to adopt a specific security framework, such as ISO 27001, that involves a regular security audit for purposes of demonstrating compliance. Even businesses that are not required to obtain certification will find that doing so can give them a competitive advantage over companies that have not, as it can increase customer confidence substantially.

Once you have completed an IT audit, you can create an action plan that identifies the chief security gaps in your environment and maps out a series of steps for addressing them on a reasonable timeline. With this plan established, you can focus on more exciting IT priorities like digital transformation initiatives.

3. Tap the power of IT analytics

Just as an IT audit can give you a better handle on what’s going on in your environment, IT analytics can point the way toward optimizing it. You can use analytics to manage aspects of the IT environment better, from power consumption to bandwidth tracking to software version control. If you’ve been frustrated because your team has been stuck firefighting unplanned system downtime when it could be making serious progress on innovative advancements for the company, then you may want to take advantage of predictive analytics that can forecast outages and help you plan for future infrastructure investments.

CIOs may enjoy a rare win-win with analytics insights, as they can enable greater capacity within the IT team to take on higher-level strategic priorities and develop a data-backed, numbers-driven IT strategy. As CIO Magazine notes, businesses are already using predictive analytics for everything from enhancing the customer experience to fraud prevention. Some intrepid IT leaders are even fighting back against hackers using predictive analytics—and there is no better time for IT to develop internal proficiency in this mission-critical capability.

The CIO role is only growing more complex, and building an IT strategy is becoming steadily more essential to success. With these tips for CIOs in hand, you can successfully kick off the big picture strategic planning that meaningfully advances your IT priorities.

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