IT strategy or digital business strategy: What's in a name?

By Ruud Boot

At Highberg, I collaborate with my colleagues on topics such as architecture and strategy. The latter primarily focuses on IT strategy. However, the term "IT strategy" has become somewhat outdated, reminiscent of the 1970s, and it sounds overly technical. It's as if it's only about "wires and boxes," a misconception my family still holds about my work. But those in the know understand better; it encompasses much more. The strategy of an organization and IT are now inseparable. Nowadays, it's not just about IT strategy but rather about how it intertwines with the overall goals of the organization—a digital business strategy. Allow me to explain why.

A digital business strategy. Allow me to explain why.

Firstly, let's address the term "digital." Yes, it does sound technical, and that's accurate. However, truth be told, can you name a single organization whose business processes are not at least heavily reliant on information technology? I doubt you can. In many cases, there is total dependency on IT across every function of the organization, be it core functions or support functions such as communication, logistics, billing, policy, permits, and more. This justifies the prominence of "digital"; in my opinion, it deserves the top spot.

Secondly, "business." What matters is expressing the purpose of creating a digital strategy: to improve the organization's results, both primary and support processes, for the people who work there, for suppliers, partners, and customers—for "the business." Whether it's public, private, or non-profit, digital tools can be supportive, leading, or even transformative, but they always serve the business.

Lastly, "strategy." Quite an imposing word. It's essential to keep in mind who the sponsor of the Digital Business Strategy is (or should be). Given the crucial nature of digital tools for an organization, it's often the department director, CIO, or CTO. People with such responsibilities must look ahead—to their external environment, their own organization, the business processes, and the initiatives they must take to drive change. Because when we talk about new digital tools, we're talking about change: new ways of working, different skills, a new ecosystem of suppliers and partnerships. It is indeed a strategy that requires a thoughtful approach, solid knowledge, and a coherent, communicable end product.

In summary, if you need a coherent product for shaping the future IT landscape that aligns closely with the organization's overall goals, then opt for a digital business strategy!

Is your organization ready for a new digital business strategy, or would you like to discuss this further? Feel free to contact me or Wilbert Enserink. We'd be happy to engage in a conversation with you.

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