By Bob Claybrook

This is the first blog post, in a series of four, focusing on technology operational maturity level and the role it can play in an organization’s business transformation.  Look for the remaining posts in the coming weeks.

Your business, regardless of size, needs to transform in a way that efficiently and effectively leverages technology to drive business value and remain competitive—it’s unavoidable.  But how do you know where to start?  How do your operations compare to the competition with respect to how well you are leveraging technology to drive business results? 

The ability to recognize your current state as well as your progress towards even more effective leverage of technology in support of your business goals is critical.  This is where assessing your technology operational maturity comes into play.  An Operational Maturity Level (OML)* assessment provides a benchmark for how well your organization is integrating technology to:

  • Drive strategic investment
  • Efficiently and effectively operate technology to optimize and deliver business value

In this series of blogs, we’ll describe how understanding your technology operational maturity helps guide high-performing organizations in the transformation needed to attain their results and mitigate the technology risks of not attaining their goals.

What is Technology Operational Maturity Level? 

Technology Operational Maturity Level provides insight into how an organization compares to best practices for technology utilization.  Low performing companies generally make the same mistakes in determining their technology investments and in how they manage technology. As a result, they often gain less business advantage of their technology investments and incur higher risks in technology failing to help them attain their business goals. In contrast, high performing companies (leaders in their competitive circles) generally all leverage the same best practices in determining their technology investments and in how they manage technology. In this way, they often gain better business advantage from technology and reduce the risks incurred from less-effective technology management practices.

We call these differences in technology decision-making and management, Technology Operational Maturity Level.  Micro Strategies helps management teams determine their Technology Operational Maturity Level, understand how it impacts achieving their goals, helps them improve, to enhance the management team’s ability to attain their business goals and reduce the technology-related risks of falling short.

Micro Strategies’ method for doing this produces objective, Technology Operational Maturity level scores across a range of critical technology management capabilities, which the client can work to remediate on their own or can retain us to help accelerate their progress. Below are some of the components included in each of the areas.

  • Strategic Alignment considers required skills and internal relationships
  • Operations & Scalability considers core technologies, and data and analytics
  • Governance & Compliance considers how IT budgets are leveraged to align spend with business priorities and goals

How can technology OML be measured?

The OML tool developed by Service Leadership provides a repeatable, systematic approach to assessing your operational maturity regarding how technology supports your business, initially and as you progress upward.  The five levels defined in the tool provide guidance on how an organization is operating in each of the primary areas.  The tool identifies specific details at every level providing insight into how the organization is managing its technology for competitive advantage.

What are the stages/characteristics of the different maturity levels?     

Under this approach, there are five levels of operational maturity:

  1. Beginning – You don’t know what you don’t know.  You’re too flexible.  IT operational effectiveness and budget are unpredictable.  The need for technology’s strategic value unrecognized.         
  2. Emerging – You realize what you don’t know.  You’re still too flexible.  IT operational effectiveness and budget are unpredictable.  There is an initial awareness of the need for technology’s strategic value. 
  3. Scaling – There is a basic understanding of the total cost of IT operational effectiveness.  Reduced flexibility yields increased IT operational effectiveness and budget predictability.  Basic business value is delivered.
  4. Optimizing – There is a good understanding of the total cost of IT operational effectiveness.  Standards are established and flexibility is minimized.  IT operational effectiveness is strong and budget efficiency is high.  Strategic alignment basics are in place.  
  5. Innovating – There is an understanding of the total cost of IT operational effectiveness.  Controlled flexibility is enabling new lines of business or revenue with IT and IT has been integrated into or is leading company strategy.

How do you apply the OML results to your business?

As discussed in the Achieving Business Agility – The Role of Data” blog, the data generated from assessing your organization’s technology operational maturity level, when integrated with the organization’s strategic objectives, is critical to your transformational efforts.  The information gained by combining these data elements allows you to more accurately prioritize where to focus.

To apply the concept, let’s consider the following example.  Let’s say one of your organization’s strategic objectives is to “Provide a Frictionless Customer Experience”.  You completed your OML assessment and the results were: 

  • “Scaling” for Strategic Alignment
  • “Beginning” for Operational Scalability
  • “Emerging” for Governance

Taking into consideration the objective of providing a frictionless customer experience, and the OML results, you might prioritize your focus on:

  • Evaluating and improving your skills internally and with your technology partners 
    • Where do you need to invest and where can you partner to attain the skills needed quickly?
  • Evaluating the current technology investments both in your core technologies and specifically for data and analytics 
    • Have the right technology investments been made? 
    • Do the technologies have the required capabilities? 
    • Have the appropriate solutions been architected to leverage those capabilities? 
    • Do you understand your current customer needs?
  • Understanding the organization’s budget 
    • Where is funding currently allocated?
    •  What options are available to re-direct funds if needed?

Using the OML and the results of the assessment provide a baseline of your current state against best-in-class organizations allowing you to more effectively prioritize your improvement activities and develop a plan to achieve the strategic goals of your business.

This post is the first in a series of blogs on technology operational maturity level and the role it can play in an organization’s business transformation. Micro Strategies provides technology operational maturity assessments both as a stand-alone engagement for organizations interested in progressing upwards to gain better leverage from and control of their technology investment, and as an integral part of a technology and technology management transformation designed to increase their leverage and control, and decrease the risk of technology management impacting its customers’ ability to reach their business goals.  Interested in hearing more? Let us know.    

* Operational Maturity Level is a trademark of Service Leadership, Inc.

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