Rise of the IT Advisor
Today, IT is often still considered a service that exists to fix things that are broken—but I’m here to explain how to leverage IT as a valuable asset to help your business gain a competitive edge.
Information Technology has changed dramatically since my career in IT began in the wake of the Y2K crisis. Remember that? Enterprise and governments across the globe scrambled to mitigate potential issues pertaining to the digital formatting and storage of calendar data at the onset of the new millennium.
Fortunately, Y2K did not turn out to be the apocalyptic episode that we had braced for, but one thing about my profession has really stuck since then: Despite massive cultural and economic shifts in the last 20 years due to our relationship with technology, that deeply ingrained notion that the IT department is simply the guys you call when something breaks, lives on. Today, IT is often still considered a service that exists to fix things that are broken—but I’m here to explain how to leverage IT as a valuable asset to help your business gain a competitive edge.
Imagine the following scenario: CEO Joe sees an ad for the latest slick technology that promises a world of possibilities, or a solution to his biggest pain point. Joe emotionally buys into this product (because that’s what good ads do, right?) and seeks confirmation from his personal network. Joe then declares, “We need Sales Force!” or SAP, or some other robust platform that requires a sizeable up-front financial investment.
Fast forward 18 months, $500k of investment, and a lot of frustrating, painful change; only a handful of employees have bought into the new platform, and they only use 10 percent of its features.
Joe, being the confidant decision maker that he is, never thought to seek the advice of an actual IT consultant prior to making such an important decision. In Joe’s experience, IT is deployed only when there is a problem that must be fixed.
The scenario described above is a classic technology problem that, beyond the obvious financial loss, trickles down to affect staff morale, productivity, and the often immeasurable “lost opportunity costs”. Technology becomes a curse word, and the business starts to shun innovation. Even investment in core technology is eschewed for fear of making another bad investment. The business is left open to risk of data loss and ongoing interruptions to its operation.
Meanwhile, down the street, Joe’s biggest competitor is doing things slightly differently but with drastically better results. This company delivers products and services with agility and efficiency. When it comes to technology, Joe’s competitor views it as an investment, not as an expense, allowing the company to implement solutions faster, adopt new technologies more completely, and maximize business continuity (that’s a fancy buzzword for “uptime” or time spent without a major IT outage or loss of data) more efficiently.
How? It’s really pretty simple. Joe’s competitor realized it could leverage its IT department to help make tactical decisions rather than utilize it simply as a break-fix, just-make-it-work type of service. The IT manager has a seat at the C-Suite table and, as such, he or she understands the goals and challenges of the organization. This markedly different attitude toward IT is an organizational game changer, because IT can now work to solve business concerns and incite competition. IT’s mandate has shifted from, “the guys we call when something breaks,” to “the experts we engage to help solve challenges and make the organization more competitive.”
Rise of the IT Advisor
Regarding IT as a business investment, not as an expense, ushers in the role of the IT Advisor: A consultant who can help strategize IT solutions that are more powerful and rewarding than those break-fix, Band-Aid approaches that have burdened the IT department with a bad name since the dawn of the personal computer. Smart IT starts with a sound technology base and thoughtful, incremental investments—all designed with the objective of enabling the company to reap valuable rewards for years to come.
Three Ways to Use Technology to Its Fullest Potential:
1. Build a strong technology foundation. You wouldn’t put a souped-up engine into a car with a deteriorating frame and blown out tires. So why would you purchase a powerful application only to run it on an antiquated or unreliable technology infrastructure?
2. Plan before you buy. Don’t lead with your emotions. Explore several possibilities and vet them against established criteria before you make any decisions at this critical stage.
3. Involve a trusted consultant in any major discussions that involve infrastructure or operations. He or she can bring a unique perspective to the situation and help you invest wisely.
If you'd like to learn more about how the role of an IT Advisor can help your business grow, get in touch with us.