Adversity has long been one of the most powerful catalysts for change. When faced with unprecedented challenges like global pandemics, economic recessions, or geopolitical conflicts, innovative organizations find a way to adapt, overcome, and thrive while others falter. In modern times, this change is facilitated by emergent tech, and one of the best ways to embrace the digital revolution and succeed in the face of adversity is to develop a successful technology roadmap.
While it may be tempting to simply adopt the latest trends and “go with the flow,” the mad dash to adapt and transform often results in little more than chaos. Therefore, no matter how tech-savvy they are, every company needs a technology roadmap to successfully step into the future of a rapidly evolving business ecosystem.
Technology can significantly impact the way you do business, from modernizing existing applications to creating new innovations to identifying emerging opportunities in the marketplace. Whatever your goal, a tech roadmap will help you identify the core ways technology will benefit your business.
In the following guide to technology roadmaps, we will take a deep dive into three use cases and provide actionable tips for creating your tech roadmap alongside a technology roadmap template that you can use to accelerate your journey.
In this article, we will cover:
Three Ways to Leverage a Technology Strategy for Business Success
The ultimate goal of any technology strategy is to empower growth. There are three key ways that you can propel your business toward its growth goals through strategic investments in technology, which are as follows:
1 – Enabler of a Capability: Enhancement and Capability Fulfillment
The right technology represents a force multiplier for your business. It can give your team enhanced capabilities that help each member be more productive, efficient, and mission-driven. When you need new powers or functions, strategic tech investments represent the ideal way to obtain them.
What Does This Mean?
Being an enabler means that the technology you implement introduces or enhances a capability that was either previously unavailable or inefficient. This is increasingly possible thanks to software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and cloud platforms that facilitate major improvements to your digital infrastructure with minimal overhead. The agility these innovations provide ensures that you have the opportunity to pivot and adapt to the ever-changing technology landscape without significant capital investment.
Why Is It Important?
In an ever-evolving digital world, staying stagnant means falling behind. As such, employing technology that unlocks new capabilities ensures that you remain relevant and meet market demands effectively. Customers don’t want to do business with brands that haven’t changed their service delivery model in years; they want the latest, best, and most frictionless experiences possible. And with global digital transformation spending eclipsing the $1.59T mark last year, investing in new tech must be a priority. Building a technology roadmap gives you a clear path forward.
How Does It Align With the Business?
Consider a scenario where a retail business wants to enhance its customer experience. Implementing augmented reality (AR) fitting rooms enables customers to try outfits virtually, aligning to offer a superior shopping experience. Customers save time while still getting to “try on” outfits, while the business delivers a more efficient journey that promotes cleanliness, as multiple customers are not trying on the same clothing one after the other.
2 – Making Something More Efficient: Creation of Efficiency and Removal of Bottlenecks
Inefficiency is the enemy of growth. Every minute wasted, error made, or misstep in production costs your business money, time, and opportunity. Though a well-trained workforce plays (and will always play) a valuable role in the efficiency of workflows, technology can create efficiency and remove bottlenecks that undermine productivity.
What Does This Mean?
Efficiency is about achieving more with less. That “less” can be fewer resources, reduced human input, less time, or minimal waste. Technology can streamline processes, reduce redundancy, and speed up your operations. The result is a faster, more productive organization that effectively sprints toward its growth goals.
Why Is It Important?
Increased efficiency translates to enhanced profitability. Moreover, it ensures you can meet the rising demands of your customers, stakeholders, and the market without inflating operational costs or ruining your margins.
How Does It Align With the Business?
The healthcare sector provides a clear illustration, as, with regard to patient care, efficiency can mean the difference between business success and failure. By leveraging technology, hospitals and clinics can ensure the timely delivery of care, improve patient satisfaction, and expedite the intake process.
As a real-world example, James River Home Health (JRHH) was poised for expansion, but its patient referral intake process lacked scalability. Organizations that respond to patient referrals the fastest have the best chance to land new clients, so JRHH needed to revamp its manual referral intake strategy to achieve its growth goals.
UDig built an intelligent automation solution around the organization’s unique decision logic, which outlines when to accept or decline incoming patient referrals. The 24/7 automated decision-making platform makes 75% of JRHH’s referral decisions and is 77% faster than its manual framework.
3 – Competitive Advantage in Your Market
Unless you operate in an extremely niche sector, there is a good chance that your industry is saturated with other businesses that offer similar products or services as your own. While all these options are great for consumers, it becomes incredibly difficult for you to differentiate yourself. Technology can provide a competitive advantage in your market and help you strengthen your foothold.
What Does This Mean?
A competitive advantage is any trait or attribute that makes you stand out in your market. Price, product quality or innovation, a superior service model, or exceptional customer service are all great differentiators, and so is cutting-edge technology.
Why Is It Important?
In an ocean teeming with wildlife, how do you ensure you’re the one fish that stands out?
That metaphor precisely outlines the role of a competitive advantage. Consumers are well-informed and spoiled with choices, which means competing through price alone is no longer enough to thrive. Technology can help you deliver personalized content, provide better customer service, and enhance every step of the buyer’s journey.
How Does It Align With the Business?
Take the e-commerce industry as an example. With so many players in the space, companies employing AI-driven personalized shopping experiences can significantly differentiate themselves from the masses, earning repeat business. No matter the industry you operate within, though, there is an opportunity to set yourself apart with technology.
Now that you have a better understanding of the vectors through which a technology strategy can fuel your organizational success, it’s time to chart your path forward. A technology roadmap outlines where you are starting from, where you want to go, and what solutions and investments will help you move from point A to point B. Let’s take a closer look at how you can build a holistic technology roadmap that supports your immediate and long-term organizational goals.
Crafting Your Technology Roadmap: A Guided Pathway to the Future
As a leader, you don’t rush into any significant business decision. Instead, you plot a course, considering the pros and cons of action and inaction and looking beyond the here and now to determine how your choice will impact the company down the road. Your technology decision-making process should be no different.
While you undoubtedly understand the importance of having a plan, making a technology strategy can be daunting, which is where the technology roadmap enters the fold. With that in mind, let’s dive into what a tech roadmap is and how to create your own for your business.
What Is a Technology Roadmap?
A technology roadmap is a strategic plan outlining how your technology will support your efforts to meet your business objectives. The roadmap will provide direction with mile markers and landmarks to keep you on the right path.
To be clear, a technology roadmap and digital transformation strategy are not the same, though they are closely related. A digital transformation strategy is a broad plan designed to help you remodel your entire organization by outlining when, where, and how tech will be integrated into your processes and departments. The former is more granular in focus. Think of your digital transformation strategy as an atlas and your tech roadmap as a breakdown of your cross-country journey.
With that in mind, let’s dive into a few important concepts that every technology roadmap should focus on.
The Importance of the Near-Term
The immediate future — typically, that which will occur in the next three-to-six months — requires the most granular detailing. Even in the rapidly evolving world of tech, you can predict what will happen in that timespan with reasonable accuracy. The period should be your focal point and include actionable steps, tangible goals, and clearly defined outcomes.
Balancing Duration with Dynamism
The technological landscape is akin to shifting sands. While it may be tempting to chart out a grandiose, five-year plan, the rapid pace of tech innovation renders such long-term roadmaps obsolete before they can be fully implemented. Instead, strike a balance with a three-year program that is long enough to be strategic and visionary but short enough to stay relevant and adaptable.
Consider segmenting your tech roadmap into two chunks. The first 18 months could be detailed and specific, leveraging known technological advancements that are just over the horizon and current market trends. The back half of your tech roadmap might remain more fluid, allowing space for course corrections based on new technological developments, internal business changes, or market shifts.
Longevity and Support
When acting as the technology cartographer for your business, two critical factors involve the staying power of the strategy or technology and the expertise to support and maintain it.
Chasing after every shiny new application or trend can lead to a fragmented strategy and wasted resources. You must discern between fleeting fads and genuine innovations that can offer lasting value to your business. Furthermore, even the most groundbreaking tech is only useful with a skilled team to deploy, manage, and use it, so ensure that you invest in your people, not just flashy tech that catches your eye.
From Vision to Reality
You have surveyed the path ahead and created your technology roadmap. Where you stand now is the juncture in which you put your plan into action. With a clear understanding of where you stand and where you want to be tomorrow, start navigating the steps to bridge the gap.
Whether investing in a new software solution, hiring niche experts, or entering a new market segment, each step on your tech roadmap should be a deliberate stride toward realizing your goals. Look for mile markers, measurable business metrics that indicate your efforts deliver meaningful returns.
How to Approach Your Technology Roadmap
Many things go into a winning technology roadmap. Some factors to consider when creating your tech roadmap include the following:
The Crawl, Walk, Run Method
The idea of running a marathon before jogging a mile sounds absurd, yet it is precisely what many businesses do when pursuing new technology investments. They jump headlong into the most advanced and flashiest tech they can find without laying the foundation for a successful deployment, and the result is frustrated staff, wasted resources, and some very disappointed stakeholders.
Begin with foundational technologies. For instance, before jumping to artificial intelligence (AI), ensure that you have a robust data management system in place. After all, that AI platform will need lots of high-quality data to yield a meaningful return.
Dependencies and Strengths
Identify which technology relies on others and understand where your strengths lie; doing so ensures that your technology roadmap follows a logical sequence. For example, if you were starting a road trip north in New York, driving to L.A. and then doubling back to Massachusetts wouldn’t make sense — the same basic premise applies to your tech roadmap.
Factor in Longevity
Adopt technologies that can stand the test of time and ensure talent is available to support and evolve these systems. Implementing new technology is hard, even if you have a great plan, and the last thing you want to do is implement a platform you will outgrow in a couple of years.
As mentioned, a five-year technology roadmap is often too long in the fast-evolving tech landscape. Aim for a three-year plan, with the first 18 months being detailed and the next 18 more fluid. If your roadmap is completely outdated at the 18-month mark, create a new one.
Alignment With Business Strategy
Every tech decision should reflect the broader business strategy and vision. It’s not about chasing every new tech trend but focusing on what benefits your business.
You wouldn’t plan a road trip to a bunch of uninteresting landmarks, and the same basic premise applies to your company’s tech roadmap. Don’t implement technologies just for the sake of it; ensure every new piece of tech delivers real value to your organization and moves it closer to its goals.
The Need to Iterate and Adapt
Remember that it’s okay to make mistakes, but fail fast: The key is to learn and pivot quickly. As your technology roadmap progresses, be open to re-evaluating and adjusting based on new data, changing business conditions, or tech innovation.
“Failure” is not a dirty word: It’s part of the process, and realizing when to recalibrate is the key to success. Once you realize you’ve made a misstep, take a step back, readjust, and get your roadmap back on track.
Technology Roadmap Template: Charting the Path to Innovation
A tech roadmap should include the following components:
Start by defining the primary aim of your technology roadmap. List the overarching business goals driving your technological evolution, and specify the duration of the roadmap. UDig recommends a three-year roadmap, but you can consider a slightly shorter or longer period depending on the specific needs of your business.
Most importantly, highlight how frequently you will review the roadmap for relevance and make updates. Again, think of a real-world road trip to a new destination: During it, you’ll check your GPS regularly to make sure you haven’t veered off course. The same concept applies to your tech roadmap.
Near-Term Focus (0-6 months)
The near-term aspects of your technology roadmap should include the following:
- Objectives and Outcomes: List a few short-term goals, how you will measure your success, and what the desired outcome is
- Implementation Strategy: Highlight the tools and tech you plan to adopt, any training requirements, and what resources are available
- Potential Challenges and Solutions: Identify any foreseeable challenges and devise a proposed solution for each scenario
Near-term plans aim to build momentum and lay the foundation for future tech adoptions.
The Medium-Term Vision (7-18 months)
The three components of the medium-term vision are:
- Objectives and Outcomes: These objectives and outcomes should be distinct from those outlined in the previous portion of your roadmap
- Implementation Strategy: Outline the tools, resources, funding, and training necessary to achieve your goals
- Exploration and Research: Prepare for the long-term phase of your plan by researching tech trends, partnership opportunities, and market conditions
The research phase of your tech roadmap is crucial, as it will reveal whether the back half of your plan is still viable or in need of reworking.
The Long-Term Perspective (19-36 months)
The long-term components of your technology roadmap involve another three parts, which are as follows:
- Objectives and Outcomes (Broad Strokes): These goals, potential benefits, and desired impacts should be broad, as you don’t know what your tech landscape will look like in 18 months
- Foresight and Flexibility: List areas for potential investment, technologies to monitor, and scenarios you need to prepare for
- Review and Revise: Outline when you will review your plan, how to integrate feedback, and how you will adapt to changing conditions
In many instances, you will need to significantly overhaul the back half of your tech roadmap due to the rapid rate at which technologies evolve.
Sustainability and Support
The final phase of your tech roadmap should include these two components:
- Longevity Assessment: Consider the long-term viability of your technologies and identify which will need to be replaced the soonest
- Talent and Team Dynamics Analysis: Outline hiring and training needs, current skills available, and outsourcing opportunities
That concludes our approach to building a winning technology roadmap. While you can tailor the contents of each section to align with your business needs, every tech roadmap should include the five foundational segments detailed above.
Illuminate the Path Forward With UDigBuilding a winning tech roadmap doesn’t have to be a daunting, painstaking process. Contact UDig, and let our technology strategists help you identify the best path forward for your business.