IT 101: Leveraging technology to set your company ahead

It is widely agreed that organizations must create a competitive advantage in order to see long-term success. One of the most effective ways to create such an advantage is by leveraging technology. According to BCG, there is a clear correlation between the adoption of new technologies and strong business performance. More than 90% of leaders say that IT is important to their organization’s future, and nearly two-thirds anticipate that new technologies will lead to higher revenues and profits in the coming years.

How, you ask? Well, first lets look at the many ways that IT currently holds organizations back. With the reactive approach that many organizations take, IT typically causes unexpected problems with far-reaching organizational impact. These problems keep your IT leadership and their teams from focusing on anything other than fixing what’s broken, thus preventing them to evolve your IT as your business as it grows and changes. This typically results in a haphazard approach to IT with unpredictable costs with no guarantee of improvement. These negative experiences translate into long hours, high turnover, and an overarching reluctance to change due to people’s fear of going from bad to worse.

Not only are the above issues a drain on your organization’s human resources, but they can be quite costly. As an example, based on industry surveys, network downtime costs approximately $5,600 per minute (over $300k per hour!)

champion On the flip side, the ability to more effectively manage both people and data will become an increasingly important differentiator among businesses, and technology can play a powerful role in this arena. If implemented thoughtfully, technology can empower your employees to get more done, help them manage their colleagues, and enable them to work better together.

Small and medium-sized businesses can now also enjoy unprecedented scalability and flexibility, avoiding big upfront capital expenditures in favor of more manageable, ongoing operational expenses thanks to cloud technology with powerful, pay-as-you-go capabilities. As we discussed in our previous post, the cloud also provide resiliency and built-in redundancy in case of human error or natural disasters – an incredibly powerful tool when thoughtfully integrated into the organization’s operational strategy. Additionally, by taking a thoughtful, proactive, and comprehensive approach to technology integration in your organization, you will be able to enhance customer service by minimizing order errors and resolve issues more quickly if they arise.

So how does one go about doing this? Here are three tried and true steps that we recommend to start setting your organization ahead:

Stabilize your operating environment
Identify the most critical IT problems that your organization faces and develop a cost-effective solution for each problem. Don’t underestimate the power of bringing in subject matter experts (SMEs) who have experience and can help identify the best solutions based on your operations and organizational goals. Implement each solution in a controlled manner so that the solutions aren’t as disruptive as the original problems (an issue that arrives more often than you might think!). In conjunction to making these changes, communicate to employees that their time is valuable and you have a plan for making technology empower and work for them instead of against them.

Standardize & systematize your IT operations
Once you’ve stabilized your IT operations, implement systems and maintenance programs to troubleshoot problems before they arise. By implementing standard, vendor-supported, mainstream hardware and software, you will be able to streamline purchasing, troubleshooting, and compatibility. Consider also creating IT support procedures to ensure you will receive support in a timely manner should anything go wrong. Lastly, automate, automate, automate. Automation of tasks like contract and warranty renewals will prevent any last-minute surprises for your employees.

Plan & Budget
Now that you have these systems in place, develop plans to regularly upgrade and replace systems. This will allow you to minimize problems, maximize staff efficiency, predict costs, and pay for improvements when you choose to as opposed to when you have to.

Keep in mind that while technology can certainly be a powerful tool for your organization, the most successful businesses invest for impact. It is not just about who spends the most. According to BCG, 30% of technology leaders have a dedicated IT manager or CTO on staff to oversee organizational IT strategy. That being said, this might not be in everyone’s budget, in which case you might partner with a third party who can help you develop a comprehensive, cohesive IT strategy (also known as a technology road map). Stay tuned for an in-depth look at how this road map can keep you on track as you navigate the three best practices above.