Think about the last positive online interaction you had with a business. What was so great about the experience? Was it personalized? Ultraconvenient? Customers from across the globe are learning about the power of technology from e-commerce leaders like Amazon and Apple. These frontrunners set the stage for smaller businesses that will eventually need to offer the same experiences for customers.

As a business, it’s important that you are always engaging in meaningful conversation about your IT strategy. Let’s delve deeper into the nine critical questions that you should be discussing with IT and business managers.

1. How will technology impact competition in our industry?
Technology is separating the once-blurred lines between industries. You don’t want to be passed up by your competitors or miss out on new opportunities. Know who your emerging competitors are, how technology can help you win against them and how you can use IT to enter new markets.

2. What will our customers expect from our company in a digital sense?
Customers want more. Once they know they can get it, they won’t have it any other way. How does your company compare to other industry leaders? Think about what your customers will be expecting from you in the near future and how you will fill these expectations.

3. Who is accountable for IT, and how do we hold them accountable?
Accountability needs to be clear, but for some reason, it often lacks in the IT department. Your company needs to have an operating model for IT that aligns with business technologies and has IT leaders being held accountable for risk, efficiency and agility.

4. Are we comfortable with our level of IT risk?
Unfortunately, many companies are unfamiliar with the risks to their IT systems. A small system failure can cause severe penalties for both the company and its customers. Understand the risks you face, how they’re measured and how you can reduce them on an ongoing basis.

5. Are we making the most of our technology strategy?
Your technology strategy will become the backbone of your company. In an increasingly digital world, your company should know how it plans to communicate messages and when.

6. Do our business plans use technology to its fullest potential to improve performance?
At first glance, technology costs can seem high. But, they ultimately improve performance by driving revenue, reducing overall costs and lowering risk. By taking advantage of new opportunities, you can boost overall performance.

7. Does our portfolio include both business opportunities and threats?
Your portfolio should clearly define risks and opportunities. It should balance short- and long-term needs as well.

8. How will technology affect our company’s operational activity?
IT can be used to improve business agility. Determine how your business and IT agility measure up with your competitors, and how your IT plans can be used to improve operational activity.

9. Are we receiving real value from IT?
Technology on its own has no value; it needs to have a clear strategy, the right technology and skills. Identify weak links, have a plan for upgrading capabilities and ensure that you have enough IT executives in the workplace.