Many of our current and potential clients are at the size where they've hired the services of IT professionals, whether in-house or outsourced, to assist with the daily needs of using technology in business. Whether it's eradicating a computer virus, keeping the file server humming or implementing an information backup/disaster recovery strategy, these professionals are their jack-of-all-trades fire extinguishers. They are relied upon for their ability to swoop in and fix technical problems that are keeping organizations from getting the job done.
However, we see it time and time again that the reliance on fixing technical issues starts to turn into a reliance on these same experienced technicians to make business decisions.
For example, a company may tell their IT professionals that their computers are too slow and that their phone system can't handle their call volume and simply delegate the task to solve the problem. These IT professionals jump at the chance to obtain new technology and to put their skills to use so they start shopping around for vendors, compiling pricing and making decisions as to what to buy. This all may sound familiar and you may be asking yourself what's the problem with asking technology people to make technology decisions? Understandably, it seems simple enough for the IT professionals to just do their jobs by getting faster computers and buying a phone system that can handle increased call volume.
WARNING! Such thinking can be hazardous to your business' health!
In the end the IT professionals were happy because they did their job since the company got faster computers and a new phone system to handle a higher call volume. This caused the company to hire more employees to handle the increased call volume and order even more computers for those new employees. But wait! After all that time and money was spent, the executives were left wondering why more orders weren't being placed and why the new computers were still too slow. So the executives ended up consulting with an outside business expert (which cost even more money) to review the business' processes. The business expert determined the following reasons as to why the call volume and computers were slow:
It just so happened that prior to the trouble with the computers and call volume, the IT professionals made the decision to keep the company's Web site in house even though it was not their forte. They figured it would be easy to maintain the Web site, would save money by not going with an outside vendor and ensure their job security since it provided additional responsibility.
Even though the above scenario is made up, this is a classic example of confusing technical expertise with business expertise. If the IT professionals would have had business expertise, their first questions might have been why are the computers too slow and why can't the phone system handle the call volume? Instead of turning over, what appeared to be a technical issue, the executives could have answered these simple questions by looking at the underlying business operations. From the beginning, if the Web site had been outsourced to an experienced company, new computers and a phone system wouldn't have needed to be purchased and additional employees wouldn't have had to be hired. In the end, the company would have saved so much more money by investing in their Web infrastructure which is a business decision, not a technical decision. Sales and profits would have increased and maybe the company could have ended up creating new higher paying jobs in production, sales & marketing.
This is why many larger companies hire a Chief Information Officer (CIO) so they can avoid such scenarios in the first place. A CIO is an executive level professional with leadership capabilities, business acumen and strategic planning experience. The CIO is generally responsible for processes and practices supporting the flow of information and it's quite common for CIOs to be appointed from the business side of the organization, especially if they have project management skills. Even though it's valuable for the CIO to have technical experience, they are not generally directly responsible for technology infrastructure. It's their job to hire the technical expertise to solve the organization's business needs. When it comes time to do business online it's wise to try to think like a CIO. Realize that technology is available, but make a business decision first to utilize that technology.
At BannerView.com we don't just make Web sites, you can count on our business expertise first and our technical expertise second to implement the most efficient Web based solutions.
It's true that technology can help make an organization's operations run more efficiently, generate more revenue and reduce overhead, but technology is only as good as the business decisions made to use that technology.
|About the author
Mark Cenicola is the president and CEO of BannerView.com, developers of BannerOS, the software that helps companies turn their websites into powerful business tools. Mark is also the author of the book "The Banner Brand – Small Business Success Comes from a Banner Brand – Build it on a Budget." Read Mark's full biography. You can find him tweeting on Twitter and starring in videos for the company's YouTube channel.
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