I meet with numerous business owners and executives every week. And every week the conversation is similar. Business owners want support. They want someone to manage their technology so that it doesn’t break. But with all the available tools we have as businesses – few business owners stop to think, What is it that we need from technology? Because while that answer may be a little support and reactive updates to equipment – it’s a whole lot more of something else and that something else is strategy. Strategy can mean vendor management and help with workflows and processes, but the most useful aspects of strategic business technology are planning, infrastructure and scalability. Why do we consider strategy to be the missing link in business technology? Keep reading.
Order of operations.
In everything you do there’s a certain order of things. If you think of technology like football, every man has his position and in every play those pieces move singularly, but they rely on one another to accomplish the end goal – a touchdown. Take a moment to consider your endgame: for many of our clients that’s a business that runs efficiently, whose users are productive and whose technology makes every experience simple and worry free. How do you achieve that? You have to have a game plan. Each piece has to know what the other “team members” are doing in order to function on its own. A server upgrade can’t be completed without having a full understanding of your software and workflow processes. An ISP can’t be chosen until you have a full understanding of what your bandwidth and usage is like. You can’t support your users when they’re running on aged equipment. All of these elements have to run together, in harmony.
What happens when you only focus on one thing?
Have you ever watched a football team that was really good in only one area of the game? They might have recruited a star receiver and quarterback, but their offensive line was less than amazing – or they spent so much time focusing on getting their defense improved so that they could stop the opposing team, but they couldn’t put any points on the board. These problems are not unlike the problems that many businesses encounter. Asking for support or a break-fix relationship is great, but when it comes to the competitive advantage, you’re just not going to win. You might be able to provide your users with great support, but what happens when it comes time to change out that aged project management software? Who is going to make sure that software can work within your server infrastructure? Focusing on one thing can make you great in a single area, but if you don’t move to the next and ensure that everything jives well – you’re setting yourself up to lose the game by being weak in another area or having technology that doesn’t work well together.
Long term focus.
Feeling like you’re constantly playing a game of catch-up isn’t fun. It’s a drag financially and mentally. What you want to do is build a powerhouse that can sustain your organization for the next 5-10 years with an understanding of what’s coming up next and how to handle it all from a financial perspective. An IT provider should be able to navigate all that as your partner along the way. It doesn’t have to be a plan that continually requires a greater and greater budget as you go. Focusing on the company’s future rather than where it is right now means that you’ll save money and be able to break down your expenses so that you’re prepared for them rather than having to swallow massive expenses as you reactively replace hardware or software that is no longer working for your needs.
Many business owners understand that they need to react to things. But fewer business owners understand that by taking a reactive approach they’re actually hurting their business. By focusing on only a single aspect of your business technology or not fully embracing strategic technology, you’re seriously underserving your business, your employees and your customers. Before you invest or make big decisions regarding your technology, make sure that you have the strategic insight you need and a full understanding of the big picture. Maintenance and support is one thing, but having a long-term plan in place so that you’re fitting the right technology in the right place is a true game changer.