We live in a constantly changing world where technology is evolving at a rate that many find hard to keep up with. When consulting with new clients, I find they have a number of uncertainties, as a result of having been let down by previous IT support teams, or they don't know enough about technology to know if they are getting the right advice.
As a technology consultant, it is part of my job to help clients with their technology strategy. It is about getting the technology in alignment with the business strategy. This also involves distinguishing between technology that will enhance a client’s business, and technology that is a distraction.
When a client is let down by their IT team
At one time or another, many business owners have engaged an IT support team who "talk the talk", who are openly confident they have what it takes to support the owner’s business. Faith is placed in that team, and the team becomes a familiar face in the business. The faith in that IT support team’s abilities remains unwavering until either things go horribly wrong, or after a pattern of smaller negative incidents which at could have been easily avoided. At this point, it becomes apparent that the IT support team do not "walk the talk".
When the client lets themselves down
In some instances, responsibility may also rest with the business owner. They may not fully appreciate the importance of their systems being kept up-to-date, and delay in investing in system upgrades. This may result in systems that underperform or fail. Part of the problem is that these businesses view IT as a cost. They do not see IT as an investment in the reliability and security of the systems that their business vitality depends upon. If they view IT as a cost, it is natural they will try to minimise that cost, and in doing so, will continue to use an IT company whose main point of difference is being cheap.
How do we get businesses and IT teams on the same page?
Part of the solution is ensuring that IT and the clients have the same primary purpose or reason why. Usually this is the reason for the client’s business and the value that the client’s products and services provide. The purpose will encompass company values or principles. It will naturally extend to the client’s vision, goals and objectives, and the automation and technology necessary to make it all possible. Things can go askew when the IT company’s purposes and the client’s purposes are out of alignment. Understanding purpose, and really getting to grips with it, is the first thing a technology strategist does. Given the inherent problems in the industry of IT and business not being in alignment, a good place to start is coming up with a better meaning for IT.
The purpose of IT as it applies to Business:
Intelligence and Time
The automation of business processes for the enhancing of Intelligence and creation of Time, resulting in better outcomes for customers and the world as a whole.
Information for information sake is a waste of time. Information is only of use if it promotes better understanding, leading to better decisions and better outcomes. If it achieves this, you could consider this information to be Intelligence and positive use of the information intelligent.
A good measure of intelligence is to look at both short and long-term consequences, and consider whether those consequences align with a client’s purposes and client’s customer experience. Is use of the data positive, beneficial to life, and quality, understanding of, and preservation of life?
Intelligence should result in better outcomes that not only enrich and enhance the customer experience, but also contribute to the world as a whole. Doing good, while doing business, is a desirable value for any company to have, and an important component of intelligence.
The failure of an IT company to implement adequate security, which results in data breaches, is simply not intelligent. It also does not align with any positive purpose. Going cheap, resulting in outages that impact on customers and brand perception is also not intelligent.
More Time is a by-product of being better organised and efficient, achieving more with less. Having more time is something almost everyone wants. Technology and automation correctly applied to business will reduce time, effort, and attention required to achieve the same output, while maintaining or improving the quality of outcome.
However, not all business technology is automatically good. The wrong technology or the incorrect use of the right technology may, in the long-term, consume more time and/or lead to unwanted consequences. It is, therefore, important to have a robust technology strategy, underpinned by principles and standards, and, of course, purpose.
Intelligence and Time Outcomes
Intelligence and Time should be major factors in any technology strategy, and also used as attitude and emphasis indicators for what we do in IT.
To get the most out of your IT, don’t think Information Technology. Think Intelligence and Time.
Ask your IT company whether any technology introduced will:
- actually produce intelligence we can use to improve, or will it drown us in lots of redundant data?
- create time, or will it become a time soak?
- preserve reliability and security, the loss of which will consume more time?
- make a positive difference to the world, both now and in the future?
Attributes of a Good Technology Strategist
A good technology strategist understands Intelligence and Time, and the importance of purpose. A good technology strategist will most likely have understanding across multiple technology disciplines, galvanised from thousands of hours of disciplined learning and application.
If your IT is being driven by cost, or by the well-meaning words of a chatty IT geek, you are at a distinct disadvantage to your competitors in the fast changing world of business and technology. My suggestion is that you engage the services of a good technology strategist.
This article was originally published on Eric Donn's blog.