Where to Make Your 2012 IT Investments

By Larry Bonfante

It's that time of year when everyone starts to think about what to accomplish in the new year. Unless you have an unlimited budget and headcount (which would be a first!), you have to start prioritizing where you will invest your limited resources.

We are in the process of going through this exercise and use a very simple question to guide our thinking: "What matters to our clients and consumers?" Based on the answer to that question, here are some of the things we will be investing in at the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) during 2012.

This year, we launched our first set of iPhone apps for our tournament and league tennis players. Given the positive feedback we received from this effort, we are taking the next step to create a "mobile friendly" version of our online solutions for our community.

Regardless of which mobile device you carry, if you can launch a browser, you will be able to access the same suite of functionality that you can from a desktop or laptop. We are also enabling mobile registration as well as mobile membership renewal, so you can do everything you need to do to become a member of the USTA and register for organized tennis from the palm of your hand.

We are also continuing to migrate our back-end systems into the public cloud. This has already served us incredibly well by cutting our ongoing hosting costs and eliminating the need for expensive capital investments in server technologies. This investment also enables us to react and respond quickly to new requirements, which allows us to come to market with solutions within hours instead of days.

We are also looking at new ways to leverage social media to engage our tennis community in our play opportunities and let them make their personal networks aware of their participation in our programs. Nothing drives more interest in getting your friends involved in something than knowing that someone they like is already participating in this activity. We are hoping to broaden our tennis-playing population by using this
virtual word-of-mouth.

We are continuing to tailor our efforts in taking the mounds of data we collect and breaking it down by using business intelligence that's easy to digest. We'll expand our use of dashboards that not only help our management know how the current efforts are going, but provide insight into where we should invest future dollars and human resources to help us drive awareness and excitement for our programs.

Finally, we are continuing to alter the mix between what we spend to keep the lights on and what we invest in innovative solutions to drive tangible business value. Our 2012 goal is to tip the scales past the 50/50 balance we had in 2011. This differs dramatically from the standard 80/20 metric that's in place for most IT organizations.

As you prepare for another year, I wish you and your teams great success and progress in 2012.

About the Author

Larry Bonfante is CIO of the United States Tennis Association and founder of CIO Bench Coach, LLC, an executive coaching practice for IT executives. He is also author of Lessons in IT Transformation, published by John Wiley & Sons. He can be reached at Larry@CIOBenchCoach.com

This article was originally published on 12-20-2011