Businesses have enough to think about when trying to choose the right technologies on a day-to-day basis. Advanced, strategic planning, on the other hand, can be overwhelming. What's more, the days of predictable, cyclical technology rollout plans are disappearing as innovation happens on a frequent basis and emerging solutions converge in digital experience platforms. These factors add up to make effective IT planning nearly impossible, and it's time for organizations to rethink how they strategize.

The IT planning challenge
CIO magazine explained that long-term IT planning isn't realistic because change is happening so quickly, but it is still important to understand the priorities and underlying goals the organization is working toward. In simplest terms: Stop trying to plan out your specific tech investments, but maintain a long-term vision for what you want to achieve as a company.

For example, a Gartner study recommended that businesses put an emphasis on three key areas as they build out digital ecosystems: Establishing interoperability in big-picture IT plans, emphasizing continued evolution within core systems and using experimental projects to test out emerging technologies. Gartner found that CIOs are trying to grapple with rapid change and constant pressure to align IT capabilities with business demands. These three priorities help businesses organize their major tech priorities and establish a cohesive path toward progress.

While these overarching principles are helpful, businesses will eventually need to pin down specific IT strategies and capabilities that are most important to them. Gaining a top-down view of the marketplace and coming up with a realistic idea of what works for you, and what you can actually afford, can prove incredibly challenging. IT consulting services are invaluable in today's complex environment. Here are three of the most prominent reasons why:

1. Experience in varied technology projects
When your business migrates to a new technology, you'll be lucky if one or two members of your IT team have gone through such a transition. If you have tenured, long-term technology leaders in place, then they've likely experienced professional work with only the technologies you actively use, at least in recent years. This knowledge gap can leave you struggling to adequately anticipate what will happen with a technology transition and make it difficult to manage technical and cultural change.

IT consultants, on the other hand, have seen many businesses transition between various solutions, meaning they'll be able to offer deeper insights into what you can expect and what you need to do to get ahead of potential problems.

Man making a presentation in a conference room.Strategic consulting can help businesses develop stronger IT plans.

2. Awareness of the tech marketplace
Imagine you want to launch a project in the Amazon cloud. You may actually have dozens of service providers to choose from, all offering slightly varied combinations of AWS offerings and varied pricing and solution models. Selecting which is best for you requires a deep awareness of what each vendor does well relative to what your business needs. Consultants perform this type of market analysis for every client, so their awareness of the service providers in a given segment can prove vital in helping you make good choices.

3. Knowledge of total cost of ownership and return on investment
Identifying service fees, maintenance expenses, licensing prices and rated costs (such as the price of bandwidth during peak usage periods) creates an accounting challenge that can be imposing under the best of circumstances. It can be difficult to accurately predict what your workloads may look like, let alone anticipate how expenses will escalate over time or when specific situations, such as working on a special project, arise.

"With technological change happening at a breakneck pace, organizations need to constantly adjust and adapt."

This is another area where the experience and vendor relationships of IT consultants can pay off. Consulting firms can use experience from past projects alongside a clear understanding of service provider policies to gain an idea of what you can expect. From there, they can work with you to analyze your business goals and market dynamics to compare a realistic TCO over a period of time with a likely ROI. The end result is a clearer idea of the potential value associated with your IT plans.

Leveraging IT consulting services to get ahead
With technological change happening at a breakneck pace, organizations need to constantly adjust and adapt. Developing big-picture IT plans can help organizations create a cohesive vision for their technical tactics. IT consultants can make this process easier in a variety of ways, both in terms of making large decisions and understanding the full implications of any specific decisions. MC Services offers a full suite of consulting and managed services. Contact us today if you want to learn more.