Technology is not IT Strategy

Technology, however good it is, will never give you a strategy, IT or otherwise, and your choice of a particular piece of technology over another is not a strategic decision.

I see this a lot recently in articles and blog posts.

Not IT Strategy

  • “We have containers as part of our IT strategy”
  • “VMware vSphere is our strategic platform”
  • “Embracing Java for development is our strategy”
  • “Our strategy is to move to micro-services”

These may all be sound technology choices, but they are reflections of strategic choices, not strategic decisions themselves.

The strategic decisions are things like the ones below

IT Strategy

  • Any IT systems that are revenue generating for the company will be developed in-house, to ensure we control our own destiny
  • We will move to an IT brokerage model, where business users will be directed to external suppliers for engagement of any required applications or services
  • Where a suitable option is available, all our existing and new applications will be migrated to an external SaaS platform

From these strategic decisions (and these are still fairly tactical in my mind), you will end up making a series of technical decisions, but please don’t confuse them for strategy themselves.

IT Strategy Outcomes

  • We use CloudFoundry, because we are rapidly switching to “Web-scale” application and operational models, and this choice accellerates and eases the transition
  • We use VMware vSphere, because we want to minimise the impact, and maximise the capabilities when transitioning from the legacy IT model of 1 server for 1 application, to a newer approach where hardware and software are decoupled
  • We keep much of our software development in-house to give us a competitive advantage over our competitors who use off-the-shelf packages, and needed a standard language in place to maximise code-reuse

If you remember one simple thing about technology and IT strategy, make it this:

If you mention a piece of technology, it’s almost certainly not strategy.

  • Stephen Draper

    It’s all to familiar, there doesn’t appear to be enough business people that understand technology. Many decisions are made based upon which technology is best, rather than making business direction clearer and selecting technology that supports the direction of the business. Good article.

  • techstringy

    Excellent article that and great point in the comment about not enough business people understand technology, but I guess not enough techies understand business requirements either. If people are spending time arguing over whether it should be one tech over another they’ve already missed the point the time should be spent ensuring they’ve understood what the business needs. Really enjoyed the article thanks.