A well-planned technology roadmap can help strategically map out investments when presenting a business case to key stakeholders. As budgets tighten across most industries, those people responsible for managing technology solutions in the business face increasing demand from CEOs and CFOs to be able to deliver a return on investment (ROI). At the outset, securing buy-in for the installation and/or upgrade of an expensive technology system involves the complex task of demonstrating value, to compete for limited business resources.
One of the main challenges is that companies often focus on quick returns on capital investment, rather than the long-term benefits that can result from investment in technology. Although a typical investment case may be made on the basis of improvements to a specific department, demonstrating the value a technology solution can bring to the wider business is more likely to generate support from management, who typically look to profitability as a benchmark of success.
With the implementation of integrated building solutions, operators across industries have experienced the value of leveraging technology to increase efficiency and streamline workflows. On a wider organisational scale, however, we are increasingly seeing these systems deliver benefits to other areas of the business outside of the traditional building management or security functionality, which can be directly linked to revenue generation for the business. These trends mean that technology is intimately linked to business outcomes and, as such, a longer-term view of technology implementation is needed. Enter the ‘technology roadmap’.
What is a technology roadmap?
A technology roadmap is a way of matching the implementation of technology to support key business objectives. This includes identifying ways to increase operational efficiency, streamline processes so that resources are being maximised, improve time management, improve standard operating procedures, and automate reporting processes to remove the manual element and the risk of human error. The technology roadmap is broken into stages and is matched to a ‘life cycle plan’ to ensure that technology refresh cycles are aligned with key business initiatives.
This allows the business to have a clear view of when technology should be updated based on its age and functionality, performance, availability and cost of support and, more importantly, the ability for the technology to enable the desired business outcomes. It also enables a structured and forecast method to plan for capital expenditure (Capex), with the ability to measure an ROI.
There is now a greater desire than ever to identify ways in which the benefits of integrated technology solutions can contribute to improved profitability across a number of business areas. Most notably, these include OH&S (operational health and safety), marketing and advertising, and legal departments.
Digital video management solutions, which can be standalone applications or integrated with building management systems, are able to provide vital video information with advanced capabilities, including scrollable timelines and multiple-camera playback.
Customers who implement this type of solution can deliver operational efficiency improvements in areas outside of security, such as OH&S. By minimising the resources and costs associated with running day-to-day operations, security operators are able to dedicate more time to live monitoring. As a result, operators are better prepared to anticipate and therefore prevent accidents and issues before they happen.
Marketing and advertising is another area where revenue can be generated from leveraging the capabilities of integrated technology solutions. In this case, technology is not just a tool for monitoring, but for collecting and storing data that can then better inform business operations. In a shopping centre, for example, cameras can be used as sensors to monitor the level and locations of foot traffic through different entrances and within stores. This creates revenue for the marketing department, as the centre can then justify charging premium advertising rates for some digital signage, or increasing rent for certain tenants depending on the identified ‘hot spots’. It can also be used to inform the product placement of certain brands and goods and drive in-store advertising effectiveness.
The IT industry has long been talking about the role of data in the enterprise sector from a business management perspective, especially for operations like sales and customer management. For example, in a retail space, traffic flow data obtained from camera sensor technology can be used to inform a range of decisions including where to place ATMs and what to charge tenants for retail space based on consumer demand.
Businesses can also improve customer service and sales by collecting information about customer behaviour. This information can inform the availability and distribution of salespeople, which can contribute to positive customer experiences. Given the tough market situation for bricks and mortar stores, this data can also help to differentiate a retail outlet by creating personalised experiences based on customers’ preferences.
Technology can enable a wealth of opportunities within a business, but investment in new technology will increasingly need to be able to make a business case for financial profitability. A technology roadmap is a great way to map out these investments and ensures that buy-in is achieved with each of the key stakeholders in the organisation.
The writer Michael Brookes is the director marketing and strategic development, Honeywell Building Solutions (HBS) A/NZ.