Making a technology map involves articulating in a compelling manner what technology can do for the enterprise, what the enterprise can do with technology, and how IT can deliver measurable impact. The strategic questions become, Where is your technology map, who and via what process was it constructed, and how good is it?
In A History of the World in Twelve Maps, Jerry Brotton reminds us that "the urge to map is a basic, engaging human instinct." We map to make sense of the world and define our place in it. But maps were once rare. "In the ancient world even short distance travel was a rare and difficult activity generally undertaken with great reluctance and fear," writes Brotton. Maps were not terribly important because most people really weren't going anywhere. I needn't say that you don't want that said about your enterprise.
Nonetheless, efficacious technology map making is a surprisingly rare competence in modern organizations. Only 40% of the Global 2000 organizations I surveyed were able to produce compelling one-to-two-page visual representations of where they were going, what they were doing and the benefits they anticipated harvesting via technology investments.
It's important to realize that when you undertake mapping your enterprise's technology world, a single map won't do. Besides mapping where your company is going, you have to map your competitors. A technology map that might have helped Stewart preserve and create value would also show what competitors like Etsy, Gilt Group and Gwyneth Paltrow's website Goop were doing with technology.
So map, and be seen. Because IT and the technology it wields cannot remain invisible in a world where a mouse click and a credit card transaction can initiate high-performance computing and advanced analytics performed on exabyte-scale data sets.
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