Why your IT infrastructure needs a plan for the future

Over 70% of senior IT executives worldwide recognize IT infrastructure as essential in enabling competitive advantage, as well as optimizing revenue and profit.

The time is now to ensure that your business will thrive in 2022 and years to come and to thoughtfully design and implement a strategic technology plan.

By making the right investments in hardware, software, network services, and more upfront, your IT infrastructure will be better suited to handle the needs of your business as you grow.

2022 is the year for investing in your infrastructure—stop taking shortcuts to save money in the short term. Being penny-wise and pound-foolish with your IT infrastructure is a recipe for disappointment and disaster.

As a business leader, you must create a solid strategic IT plan and work culture to support it. When utilized strategically, technology can help SMBs develop a more productive, efficient, and innovative workforce.

So, although your business “winning” might vary depending on its size and scale, it’s guaranteed that the following 5 reasons will help you achieve victory, whatever that looks like for you.

1. Organize and Prioritize Your IT Tasks

If the thought of the future of your IT infrastructure has you already overwhelmed with agita—it doesn’t have to! When you create a strategic technology plan, you are setting yourself, and your business, up for success.

By breaking up your IT tasks and defining them as they relate to your overall business goals, you can organize and prioritize them. The crucial first step—performing a SWOT analysis.

In case you aren’t aware (or forgot) what a SWOT analysis is, SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It’s a simple but crucial acronym to understand and utilize effectively for your business’ IT infrastructure planning and your overall strategic planning methodology.

As related to your IT infrastructure needs, a SWOT analysis will enable you to identify the gap between where your IT department (or person/people) currently is and what it wants to achieve long-term. From there, you can identify the barriers and the resources needed to bridge the gap.

Think your business is okay because you’ve performed a SWOT analysis before? Think again. Due to changes in work behaviors and evolutions in technology, your business is being put at greater risks daily than ever before.

One prime example? The rise of the internet of things (IoT).

What’s the IoT?

Gartner defines the internet of things as “the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.” Or, all network-connected devices other than traditional computers and smartphones that access the internet. These devices include various sensors, software, and all other objects/devices that can connect your physical space with the outside world.

Norton encourages people to consider the potential risks of IoT devices, including these key questions, “[w]hat if someone hacks your IoT security cameras and watches your every move? What if a cybercriminal commandeers your smart TV, smoke alarms, or front-door lock?”

All of those aforementioned considerations are bad actors accessing only your personal network and data—consider the ramifications compromised IoT devices have on your business network and security? IoT increases your attack surfaces and vectors for cybercriminals and exceedingly nefarious malware. When a work network is exposed to threats via IoT, the entire system is at risk of Denial-of-Service (Dos), spoofing, and other sorts of detrimental attacks.

How is your business reconciling the rise of IoT attacks and an increasing hybrid workforce? Many web applications and APIs don’t adequately protect sensitive data, and connectedness can create vulnerabilities. Your strategic IT plan must account for these ever-evolving applications and software and the vulnerabilities that they present.

By creating and leveraging an effective SWOT analysis, your business can create a strategic plan that prioritizes IT tasks to meet desired objectives and adapt to changing market conditions.

2. Identify where IT can contribute business value

A strategic technology plan also allows organizations to identify where technology can contribute business value. According to Gartner, 63% of CIOs struggle to communicate the value of IT to the rest of their organizations. However, with a proper plan in place, you and your decision-makers should feel empowered to convey just how critical a role that sound IT infrastructure plays in your business.

Gartner further states that through 2025, CIOs (and other similar positions) who successfully communicate their organizations’ business value will maintain 60% higher funding levels than their market peers. Therefore, to ensure that the proper funds are allocated for your infrastructure and digital transformation projects, it is in your best interest to fully understand and articulate just where and how much IT can contribute to business value. By year-end, IT spending across the globe is expected to top $4.2 trillion—an increase of 9.5% from 2020.

When carefully crafting a strategic IT infrastructure plan, you can proactively identify digital transformation opportunities. Salesforce defines “digital transformation” as “the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements.” Embracing and facilitating digital transformation projects will be vital to the longevity of your business. Astonishingly though, only 11% of 1,140 business executives surveyed believe their current business models will be economically viable through 2023—with 64% of those execs saying that their companies must build new digital businesses.

The head of project technology for TIAA, Darrell Fernandes, said that the pandemic caused him to “shift about $10 million worth of initiatives within the technology portfolio” and “fast-tracking automation projects, interactive chat and other plans that improved the company’s ability to serve its customers.”

A strategic plan helps your business focus its IT organization on key priorities that drive better outcomes—not using cookie-cutter strategies.

3. Mitigate Cyber Attacks and Data Breach Threats

Once you have a plan in place, you can better prevent and mitigate cyber-attacks and data breach threats. If you strategically develop your IT infrastructure, your business is proactive. From there, you can create and implement a layered approach.

How can you leverage your current largest asset to assist in these measures (hint: it’s your staff!)? The answer is simple—education. Employee education is critical to the successful implementation of your strategic plan. The simplest way to mitigate almost every sort of significant cybersecurity disaster is through routine employee education. Empower your employees with various data loss prevention (DLP) and managed detection and response (MDR) tools and plans in conjunction with your cyber readiness plan. These tools are an excellent supplement for your employee education efforts.

When you empower employees with the tools and information they need to make sound decisions on company networks, everyone wins.

Once your work culture has shifted to include employees thinking about cybersecurity and threat mitigation, continue to capitalize. Begin regularly addressing your staff (even via email) with critical and topical threats that they need to be aware of. Start issuing “voice of leadership” type messages so that employees are always aware of what to look for, what to do, and who to call in case of a suspected cyber-attack or data breach.

The key to getting employees to have a vested interest in your business’s cybersecurity? Make it personal. This article, highlighted on ZDNet, shares the story of a company that “shut[s] down because of ransomware, leav[ing] 300 without jobs just before [the] holidays”. In late 2019, an Arkansas-based telecommunications firm was the target of a ransomware attack. In an email letting employees know they were let go, the CEO wrote that “servers were attacked by malicious software that basically ‘held us hostage for ransom’ and we were forced to pay the crooks to get the ‘key’ just to get our systems back up and running”.

After over 2 months of exhaustive, painstaking work, they barely recovered any data. And to make matters worse? The recovered data was utterly trashed.

Creating and adhering to a strategic plan will help you establish the strict policies and procedures your business needs to survive and thrive. Although, all of this means nothing without follow-through. While establishing strict, security-focused protocols is essential, a system of validation and enforcement is equally important. After all, rules without consequences are only suggestions.

4. Gain competitive advantages by making the best use of your technology resources

A strategic technology plan will also help you gain a competitive advantage over others in your market.

But, how?

By leveraging your technology resources to work for you.

Regardless of your exact business, technology is no longer an independent entity from specific industries.

What does a meaningful competitive advantage look like to your business? Are you aiming for thought leadership? High-end UX? Operational excellence? Superior customer personalization? Ilya Lipovich, Forbes Council member and CEO and Co-Founder of Cider Corp., a U.S.-based custom software solutions provider, expounds on the fact that every company should be looking to become a tech company.

To edge out your competitors, you’ll need to embrace the power of technology and how it can automatize your most tedious operations. According to data from Mckinsey & Company, the most significant impact of technology is achieved by rewiring a business’s internal operations. So, you must identify areas where technology can be leveraged to improve your business operations in your strategic IT plan.

How can your business make the best use of the available resources and technologies? By embracing and integrating them with open arms.

Early adopters will develop an advantage over the competition with the onset of the internet of things (IoT) and big data gathering powered by cloud technology. Any company that can analyze data and derive valuable insights will leave competitors who won’t (or can’t) behind. (Ilya Lipovich)

By planning and investing in your IT infrastructure, your business can create sustainable competitive advantages that your competitors aren’t even aware exist yet.

5. Develop a technology roadmap — allows you to see what’s around the corner

If there was one thing that the pandemic was good for, it’s the fact that all public and private sector organizations realized how poor their IT infrastructure truly was. Forrester Research analyst Stephanie Balaouras states, “I am highly confident that all the trends around automation and cloud are going to dramatically accelerate. One thing that the pandemic exposed is just how brittle some of our core infrastructure turned out to be”.

The 18-month IT plan reevaluations just won’t cut it anymore. Instead, businesses need to start being proactive in adopting cutting-edge technologies. According to Forrester, nearly all development tools will include an AI bot by the end of 2022. Is your business ready for the changes that will bring?

A strategic IT infrastructure plan allows you to not only set goals for the upcoming few quarters but go beyond that to develop a technology roadmap — which enables you to see what’s around the corner.

One of the most critical parts of a successful strategic technology plan is to provide your business with direction to address growth and effective systems integration. By sitting down with key team leaders from your company and creating your IT infrastructure plan, you will create a technology roadmap.

A technology roadmap will future-proof your business infrastructure and make your technology truly work for your business by staying ahead of the latest trends and advancements. Even as your systems upgrade, a technology roadmap will account for the continued evolution of your IT systems to ensure that your business operates without a hitch.

The pandemic caused Mike Crones, CIO and principal director of program operations at Draper to, “change my IT roadmap tremendously. The core services remain the same — customer service, email, connectivity — but the way that I’m supplying them may be altered”.

Your IT infrastructure plan should be created to support the best network and software updates possible. A sound strategic plan ensures that your IT evolves as your business does.

Are You Ready For A New Strategic Technology Plan?

If you read through the 5 reasons and found yourself agreeing with even one, you and your business will benefit from an IT infrastructure plan for the future.

If you feel like your business needs to:

  • Organize and prioritize IT tasks
  • Identify where IT can contribute value
  • Mitigate cyber attacks and data breach threats
  • Gain a competitive advantage by making the best use of your technology resources
  • Develop a technology roadmap to see what’s around the corner

Then you are ready for a new strategic technology plan.

Your IT infrastructure is too vital to leave to chance. Ensure that you have a true partner in technology by trusting your needs to CTComp.

Since 1983, our experts have provided tailored IT solutions that help businesses thrive. So make your life and your job easier and call CTComp today.