There are people who think that their business technology doesn’t do anything more than what they can do with paper and pencil, and there are people who see technology as their ticket to business success. Where you sit between these two perspectives has a lot to do with the experiences that you have had with technology. It’s certainly hard to see the potential for IT to improve business if you are constantly frustrated with IT issues. In fact, trying to leverage technology on an unreliable framework is like trying to build a sand castle while the tide is coming in. Imagine that you could change that and you had a stable technology foundation on which to grow. What could you do right now to better leverage technology to improve your business?
1. Fully Utilize Your Software
There are often huge gaps between what your line of business application can do, and how you are using it. The cause is often a lack of knowledge. Perhaps the software vendor didn’t understand all of your business needs and so did not connect them with their solution. Or maybe you were told that the software could do what you want it to do but it turns out that it’s just too hard to make it do it. In another scenario, dependence upon “tribal knowledge” to teach employees how to use the software for their job role can result in decreasing utilization because pieces of knowledge get dropped along the way.
There is no reason why your IT support team can’t start working on better software utilization today, but if they are constantly dealing with IT issues and maintenance, they’re never going to get to it. Additionally, ongoing IT strategy consulting might not be in the realm of their expertise so they may be unable to propose changes that will make a big difference in your IT results.
2. Connect the Digital and Physical World
Smart objects are popping up everywhere, and they have great potential to help businesses save time and money. The key is to know what data you need to collect, and then what to do with it. Start by exploring what you are already utilizing. If you are a manufacturing company and Operations are already using a smartphone app to monitor machines, look to see if other equipment has similar capabilities. If your facility has environmental controls connected to the internet, figure out how to use them to save energy. Are there any customer facing technologies that are available to you but you haven’t adopted them yet? You could be losing sales if you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon.
Your IT support team could be exploring how you can connect the digital and the physical world right now. However, if your team doesn’t have the necessary expertise to weave these opportunities into your business processes eventually they’re going to hit a wall.
3. View IT as Strategic and Not Just Operational
This isn’t a task for me-myself-and-I. You need to get your whole management team to shift their thinking if you really want to find ways to leverage technology. Strategic thinking leads to more opportunities, greater market share, improved products, and growth. Connecting IT strategy with the vision for the business requires the expertise of someone who can listen and ask the right questions, facilitate discussion, and then make connections with technology.
IT is not going to stop being operational. Technology is the tool that we use to do business. It’s easy for IT support to get confined to operations if no one can fill the role of Chief Information Officer, interact with the people who are responsible for business strategy, and provide ongoing IT strategy consulting.