Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bemoaning IT

I often hear a lot in different articles either blogs or news that companies are not getting a lot out of their IT dollars spent. My question is why not? Why is IT spending your precious money and not providing you the return you expect? Is your IT a cost centre and how do you view that cost centre? Is it facilities support or is it something greater? If your IT is facilities support why do you have all those people working there, get rid of them they are doing your business no favours. I dont mean though that your IT department necessarily has to go but maybe some people.
IT can be an innovative driver of your business, but first Mr CEO you need to make IT part of your strategic investment. You need to engage your people to deliver against that strategic direction. If you don't have a clue about IT then you need to find a right hand man to run for you under your strategic guidance, and since we have had them driving parts of our business for 20 - 50 years then you really need to learn something, you don't do your shareholders any favours with your current behaviour.

Much has been said and done to deliver ERP and other systems to some best practice. If you have one of these built to best practise, ask your self whose best practise, I am sure it wasn't yours. For some of these systems the lead time and delivery time to implement means that your new ERP complete with "Best Practise" is now three years out of date, it may be more.
Do you innovate daily, or do you wait until you have little choice to change to move and then only begrudgingly do it. If it's the latter you need to change or move on, retire and go fishing.
If you are interested in maximising your shareholders values and building a great company then you need to start doing the following with your technology.
  • Start to understand at least a modicum of what technology you currently have, what technology is being touted around in the industry and find out if any new stuff might have suitable uses in your business. Some may be too new, or even realistically "pie in the sky" for your business.
  • Get involved with your IT department, make it a regular habit to have a chat to your IT staff, some of them might actually have a passion for their job not unlike the one that started your company, these are valuable people.
  • Encourage your people to network around your business and to use their professional organisations to network around the industry.
  • Speak to people about the capabilities of software you currently have
  • Get some rules in place about isolated pockets of data, you can't have them, Its ok to prototype ina product like Access, but when its been accepted your data needs to be in a suitable database that can be backed up and safely recovered if need by by your IT department. Depending on your organisation that might be SQL Server or Oracle or an open source database like Postgress.
  • Talk to your key users in your departments about what impedes their ability to get the job done
  • Get your IT people to talk to the business users about these issues to find solutions, together they might surprise you
  • Get your IT people to learn your business, they don't have to know details of invoice creation but having an understanding of some of the workflows will assist them to find technology that will enhance your business

Any company can be innovative with IT but unless Mr CEO you are driving it by providing suitable direction to allow your team to develop understanding of the technology and getting small pilots into place where they could be a value add for your business. Small pilots could be a few thousand dollars a server some basic software and see if they can get a something to fly.
It is okay to develop software that is custom built, but to do so successfully is a project in successful management as this means you understand your business and technology. As CEO you don't have to know how to program in a language but you do need to know some IT skills.
Google has grown to one of the largest, most successful and possibly influential companies through the innovative application of technology. Whilst the founders were technologists and understood what the technology they were using they didn't necessarily have any idea about business. In your company you might know a lot about your industry( I hope you do) but not so much about the technology. Find a CIO/ IT manager who can do that for you to apply has technology know how to your business through your discussions. You probably currently use some innivative marketing programs, why not have some innovative IT

So today is time to change, quit complaining about the cost of IT and start getting IT to add to your bottom line by providing quality products well implemented to support your business.

See ya round


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