Technology has long been one of humankind’s greatest allies. From discovery of fire and invention of the wheel to implementation of the assembly line and the automobile, technology has made it possible for us to accomplish more than any other species on the planet. It is technology, not the opposable thumb, that is our greatest advantage. But how do we ensure it delivers the desired outcome? Any tool that increases our capacity has the potential to be under-utilized or spin wildly out of control.
For most of us, we rely on information technology to expand our business capacity. Whether it’s routine tasks such as email or more advanced applications like data analytics, technology helps you do more with less or accomplish things that simply would not be practical manually. In fact, IT has become so commonplace it is often taken for granted. IT is often perceived as a button to push or a device to buy every few years. The reality is far more complex, and this oversimplification results in businesses allocating insufficient resources to managing their technology and extracting much less impact from budget dollars.
Fully utilizing IT in your business requires commitment. A commitment to understanding the specific and unique requirements of your business and its constantly evolving needs. While business owners and executives understand their business needs, the ability to translate that to an effective IT strategy is rare. The result is many small businesses simply revert to a strategy of hope. Hope their devices work as expected, hope their data is safe, hope that nothing happens with their IT that requires a response. There is a better way.
Managing and delivering IT can and should be a predictable activity. The hardware and software used in IT are standardized. Gaps in experience are almost exclusively tied to either training or execution. Those are human-based variables that exist in almost every aspect of a business. That means your IT experience boils down to whether your tools are configured correctly, and your team knows how to use them. If your IT is not process driven, it will have delivery failures. If your team is not trained in the use of your tools, you will have gaps in productivity. In either case, your technology will be an obstacle to your business results.
Whether you have an in-house or outsourced IT team, partnering with a resource who can handle the execution is critical. This keeps the doors open and the trains running on time, so to speak. But what about changing and adapting? Your IT partner must be able to provide support in seeing around corners and decision making. Otherwise known as strategy and policy development, this component is often overlooked and the last aspect to be addressed. But it is the most critical- without a plan, how do you know which action to take? To be effective, an IT strategy must be thoughtful and aligned with the business strategy. Spending resources in the wrong areas is often more damaging than taking no action.
As a timely example, many businesses have recently been forced to move to work from home options rapidly. For businesses that have committed to appropriate business continuity planning, the disruption to their operations has been minimal. For others, there has been significant expense and stress added to an already challenging time. It is also likely they have implemented temporary work arounds, rather than a comprehensive integrated solution. While COVID-19 is a worst-case scenario, the entire point of business continuity planning is to protect your business at its most vulnerable.
Working with a quality IT provider has never been more important. While people will always be the most important contributors to a business, providing them with a partner who can empower them to achieve great things is the most important contribution you can make.
-Marc Gibson, CEO/Founder of DThree Technologies