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Who Needs a Strategic Roadmap Anyway?

A large proportion of companies will not have laid down formal roadmaps in any truly extended sense

This post is written in association with Dimension Data, an ICT services and solutions provider that uses its technology expertise, global service delivery capability and entrepreneurial spirit to accelerate the business ambitions of its clients. Dimension Data is a member of the NTT Group.

It used to be called a business plan. But management-speak and a few decades of PC-fueled innovation changed that simplistic approach.

Bill Gates famously entitled his first book The Road Ahead and although this didn't officially help coin or endorse the phrase "roadmap," it didn't do it any harm either.

How Does a Roadmap Sound?
Today we define a strategic technology roadmap as:

... a plan and schedule designed to describe, project and plot an organization's identifiable (and anticipated) business needs in relation to technology available today and those emerging technology platforms, devices and use cases that are still-nascent but emerging enough to be considered worthy of inclusion in the current planning phase.

Actually that's not an official definition from any particular source, but it reads credibly enough that you might consider it to be doesn't it?

What's the issue with strategic roadmaps and who needs them anyway?

A More Extended Consideration
The problem is that a large proportion of companies will not have laid down formal roadmaps in any truly extended sense. Yes they will have budgetary planning sheets, forecasts and roughshod business plans - but the strategic technology roadmap is a more extended consideration that demands greater time and energy.

But here's more of the problem: which type of roadmap are we talking about? There's a sales roadmap, a product development roadmap, a management roadmap, a technology roadmap, a mobile device roadmap and a security roadmap (just to name six primary roadmap locators) and we need to a) create and manage all of these plans and b) coalesce them.

In reality, if a firm does succeed in getting a selection of roadmaps (plural) off the ground there is typically one glaring hole or omission in the plans laid down. The security roadmap is, for some reason, often the least loved of the roadmap family.

A Key Roadmap? Mobile Device BYOD Security
More specifically, the "mobile device BYOD security roadmap" appears to get left out in the cold, even by those firms that do operate a distinct a) mobile policy and b) a security policy. Somehow or other, the coming together of the mobile device BYOD security factor fails to fuse in the nuclear reactor of roadmap fusion and creation.

The Dimension Data Enterprise Mobility Survey Report found that while 79% of IT leaders who classify mobility as a top priority, 69% already have a roadmap in place.

But... and it's a big but...

What is surprising is that two critical issues are not being addressed by a vast majority of those who are implementing a strategic mobility roadmap.

Only 29% of those who are implementing their roadmap have tested how well their core applications work on mobile devices and have conducted a security audit of applications touched by mobile devices - even though 67% of them named data security as their greatest mobility-related concern.

"Much of the focus on mobility strategy and implementation seems to relate to internal communication: individuals are better able to take meetings using their mobile devices, but the ability to have access to the applications needed for decision-making and to collaborate effectively are not enough of a priority to have a substantial impact on employee productivity or business agility," said the report.

Where Do We Go Now?
We may be able to get some clarity if we give the market another 18 months, i.e., BYOD could still be argued to be a comparatively new trend. The problem is, security is an issue now. Management-speak might circle around the subject of strategic roadmaps and put some practitioners off, but this is the stuff of now and it needs action.

For more information on this discussion topic Dimension Data has published an Enterprise Mobility Survey Report to examine the critical gap that exists between the enterprise mobility vision and real-world implementations.

More Stories By Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist and corporate content creation specialist focusing on cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects software engineering, project management and technology as a whole.

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