Technology roadmapping: what it is and how to get it right
Whether we like it or not, the information age has changed the way we live, socialize, and work. Digital technology is no longer something that’s just “nice to have”. It’s become fundamental to business growth and sustainability.
However, just buying and implementing the latest and greatest technology doesn’t guarantee success. If you want to get the most out of your tech and succeed in the long run, you need a technology roadmap that is aligned with your business goals and customer needs.
What is a technology roadmap?
Put simply, a technology roadmap is a visual document that illustrates your technology strategy. It helps you choreograph which technologies are needed to reach your long-term goals, and guides you on when and how to onboard them. In essence, your roadmap acts as a timeline for adopting new technologies that will enable you to reach your short and long-term objectives.
Drive successful innovation
Technology roadmaps can pinpoint existing technology gaps and predict future needs. This visualization makes it simpler for you and your team to integrate new technologies, as it connects a need with a solution. It also empowers you to respond smartly if the business landscape suddenly changes. And that’s not all. Here are four other key benefits to technology roadmaps:
• Facilitates internal communication
Regardless of what changes take place in the workplace, your employees need to be on board. A roadmap clearly presents the strategy behind your technology plan and the advantages it will bring to your organization. This enhances transparency and fosters clear communication.
• Boosts innovation and productivity
Technology roadmaps go far beyond simply trying to integrate the latest technology into existing strategies. They encourage innovation and investment in technology that meets customers’ needs and improves productivity. Roadmaps also encourage innovation through the strategic use of new, better, and updated technology.
• Keeps you ahead of the curve
The tech landscape is evolving at breakneck speed. Trying to keep up with all the ongoing changes can be overwhelming. A roadmap can help reduce any uncertainties and position you to respond better to technological changes whenever they occur.
• Aligns your tech strategy with overall business goals
By developing a roadmap, you’ll be able to take stock of your existing IT infrastructure and identify which technologies are needed to reach your goals or define which ones need to be updated. This alignment can reduce costs, increase productivity, and fuel business growth.
So, let’s say you’ve decided it’s time to build a technology roadmap. But how to go about creating one that will work best for you?
We’ve got you covered. Follow these five steps to create an effective technology roadmap:
1. Identify your strategic objectives
Before developing your technology roadmap, you first need to determine what you’re looking to achieve, aka your business goals. By working backwards, you can determine “why” you need to update your technology stack and “how” this will benefit your organization. Only by creating a targeted roadmap will you be able to meet both your tech needs and your overarching strategic objectives.
2. Decide your roadmap’s audience
As with any document, knowing your audience is key. It’s essential to understand who your primary audience is, so you can tailor your roadmap to them. For example, if you’re developing a roadmap for your IT department, then using technical language is probably fine. However, if you aim to share the roadmap with your Board of Directors, then it’s likely that you’ll need to ditch some of the technical jargon.
In this case, it might be a good idea to create separate versions of your roadmap. This way it’s easy for every team involved to understand the plan and their responsibilities.
3. Determine which technologies best align with your needs
Developing a technology roadmap doesn’t mean that you need to invest in every new innovative technology on the market. Far from it. Your roadmap should be developed according to existing and future organizational capabilities and needs. Start by reviewing your current processes and identifying what gaps exist. This will help you decide what can be improved and which processes need to be streamlined.
You should also pinpoint the tools needed to improve your customer experience (CX). By addressing the needs of your organization and customers, you’ll be ready to draft a step-by-step plan outlining your goals.
4. Define your team’s roles and responsibilities
Once you’ve decided which tech solutions to implement, it’s time to convert your goals into a plan of action. To begin, share and review the roadmap with your wider team, and discuss and decide on a rollout plan. This should be broken into short and long-term goals, with responsibilities assigned to relevant team members.
Keep in mind that new technology can be challenging, so don’t forget to include training and capacity-building sessions. This will enable your team to familiarize themselves with the new tech and successfully onboard them.
5. Set benchmarks and measure progress
Implementing a technology roadmap is a continuous process. It’s important that you use benchmarks to track your progress over time. By setting milestones at regular intervals throughout the project lifecycle, you can assess how effective the new technologies have been in reaching your long-term goals. Only with ongoing monitoring and analysis can you accurately determine how much headway is being made.
Regardless of the industry you’re in, technology will continue to play a crucial role in driving business growth. However, technology without a purpose will never create a distinctive and memorable CX. As time goes on and new opportunities emerge, it’s vital to have a vision and the tools that are necessary to adapt and embrace new technologies. By going through the roadmap development process, you’ll be able to determine which technologies you need not just to survive, but to thrive.
Technology roadmaps are neither a one-off action plan nor a static project. They should be living documents that are updated regularly. By doing this, you’ll ensure you’re well-prepared and positioned to quickly respond to new opportunities, challenges, and organizational priorities as they arise.