100 Technology Executives from Fortune 500 businesses were polled by the SBS (Strategic Business Solutions) team at Long View and asked one question……..“Do you have a strategy?”

That question requires a definition:  What is strategy?  Michael E. Porter along with Jan Rivkin published a paper in conjunction with Harvard Business School stating, “Strategy is not operational effectiveness”. (Source image – Michael E. Porter)  While operations are necessary, they are not sufficient nor a strategy.  We agree.

Over the next 12 weeks we will release a series of articles discussing strategy constructs from the SBS group at Long View along with our CTO. For today, we want to open with our question to the Fortune 500 executives.

For over 20 years technology has been a vehicle to drive the operational efficiency of business processes.  As an industry we have become masters of using IT operations to provide scale and cost savings for both complex and simple tasks.  Furthermore, using multi-discipline partnerships and segment technology stacks worked extremely well for most IT executives, this approach has enabled the delivery of core applications to our business partners.

Operational Effectiveness vs. Strategic Positioning

Operational Effectiveness vs. Strategic Positioning

However, we would suggest we are on the midst of our Apollo moment in technology.

1969 saw one of man’s greatest accomplishments achieved.  Neil Armstrong walked on the moon a mere ten years after Kennedy’s bold challenge.  A relatively insurmountable task when you consider we hadn’t even sent a man to space 9 years earlier, and yet that year we were broadcasting to the world man’s first steps on the moon.

Yet the 1970’s were not as kind to our bold space explorers.  It was not until the launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1981, when a new vision and strategy was employed to again challenge the fabric of mankind… this time could we live in space, not just travel in it.

Today we know the answers, successes, failures, tragedies and heroes of the global space community.

Including most recently Chris Hadfield’s amazing journey as chronicled on such earth bound technology like Twitter, Facebook and Google+. However it took the reinvention. Mercury, to Saturn, to Apollo, the Shuttle and now Expedition 35 on ISS. Along the way efficiency was driven. The standing joke of millions of parts built by the lowest bidder is well known and a relative comparison to how most IT departments are run today.

So why is this our Apollo moment?

If strategy isn’t efficiency, then it is:

  1. Unique competitive positioning of assets or services (internal and external)
  2. It is being activity focused on business outcomes, not technology outcomes (fail fast methods are needed)
  3. Clear differentiation from competitors
    • Is your IT department differentiated to what can be consumed from the market? Are you providing strategic new services or just better efficiency?
  4. Sustainability of strategy is not a one-time process, but a series of activities /partnerships in technology not the parts and bits
  5. Operational effectiveness to deliver outcomes is a must, but quantifiable and qualitative in nature.

If the last twenty years has been our Apollo mission in IT, then what’s our next frontier? Gartner would suggest Digital Media. McKinsey & Co. states consumption based economics.

The SBS group at Long View would agree with these analysts, but our goal isn’t just academia, but actual implementation.

Our goal is simple. Not to tell “what” needs to be done, but help people with “how” to do IT. Over the next 12 weeks we’ll attempt to help with the “how”.

The answer to our opening question?

Majority of IT Executives in Fortune 500 said “no” to having a formalized strategy and road map.


Have a question or a problem? Ready to build an IT strategy today? Email us: