Choosing the right technology for your business can be a complicated process. When implemented correctly, business technology can help fuel innovation and drive business growth. Whether launching a start-up or implementing a Digital Transformation Strategy for a FTSE100 company, technology is vital to ensure desired business outcomes and goals are realised. Logically then, if implemented incorrectly, business technology can starve innovation and stall business growth.
For example, as a small business owner choosing support for your PC, the owner will typically visit a local branch of PC World Business Support and spend an hour waiting to be seen by a local PC World Business Support ‘Business Advisor’ who is only really interested in selling products. The owner will make a relatively large investment for a small business on a new technology platform, and depending on the size of the business this could include a number of desktop computers, a number of laptops, perhaps a server, a number of Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions, a multifunction printer and an accounting package. The small business owner then attempts to implement the platform with the help of a PC World Business Support telephone line. After failing to implement the platform and losing patience whilst experiencing a great deal of frustration the business owner then purchases an installation service from PC World Business Support and achieves the goal of building a platform. However, after a period of time things have slowed down, frequent crashes occur, the printer is constantly broken (due to being incorrectly sized for its duty cycle) and more frustration is experienced. Clearly, this isn’t the right tech support from an IT support services provider and I could go on painting a picture of viruses, missing data backups, Office 365 licensing subscription complexities and so on but I’m sure by now you get the picture that a pattern of associating IT support services with frustration and business cost is established.
Similarly, in a medium sized enterprise, a CIO will be tasked by the board with implementing a global business platform based upon Microsoft Dynamics to automate the company’s global manufacturing and production processes and will tender a Request for Information (an RFI) to its exiting IT support services providers. Perhaps a procurement manager will be tasked with helping to identify and recruit the services of a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) specialist and after several meetings with many companies a Microsoft Gold Partner with a Microsoft Dynamics CRM specialisation will be chosen. The project is launched, the CIO reports initial success with a raft of new technical terms and goals. At first the board is impressed and a pilot is undertaken which results in unexpected delays, budget increases, more hardware being purchased to support newer software with more features. Costs begin to spiral, scope creeps and the board issue a warning to the CIO that heads must roll. The CIO calls a meeting with the Microsoft Gold Partner who subtly blame the Enterprise’s internal IT team for not keeping to timescale whilst also blaming Microsoft for lack of response when requesting updates, reporting bugs, etc. As with the small business owner, a pattern of associating IT support services with frustration and business cost is established.
Now let’s take a step back, what’s missing in both of these scenarios? The answer is of course an effective IT strategy. By simply choosing an IT support services provider based upon an immediate problem to be solved, your business is at the mercy of the sales tactics of the IT support services provider chosen. And believe me, whether it’s PC World Business Support or a Microsoft Gold Partner, the IT sales and marketing industry is probably the most sophisticated in the world (think Apple, Microsoft, IBM, HP, etc.). Therefore, before you choose an IT support services provider, develop a strategy that clearly defines your desired business goals with a clearly defined actionable plan that will help you achieve them in a specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) manner. After all, technology should help fuel innovation and drive business growth – not hinder it. In conclusion, if you don't know what you want to achieve from your IT support services provider, or have a vision which clearly articulates your desired business outcomes, then business technology will simply continue to be a business cost - not a strategic asset.