The Future of IT is today
We are living in an evolutionary age, where technology and being digitally connected have completely engrossed our everyday lives. From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed, there are very few things that we interact with anymore, that don’t have some time of smart-component to it. We fill our homes with smart-gadgets, our cars more reliant on technology than the old days of simple engines, and many of the software programs we use at work are infused with AI technology. Yet, despite being fully immersed in the digital age and all of the technology that comes with it, many executives and business leaders are still categorizing IT within their General and Administrative (G & A) budgets, without making any real investments in their IT systems or forming any solid IT strategy. Gone are the days of IT being a commodity. Information technology is not a necessary evil in business, it’s a value creator.
Because we live in the digital age, because the way we do business revolves around technology, and because our customers expect everything quick, fast, and efficient; it has become crucial for a business to implement an IT strategy that aligns with their operational goals and objectives. While there are many ways to take advantage of IT investment, we have selected four very relevant topics for discussion.
Improve Corporate Culture
The corporate culture of your business relies on a great many things: like certainty, exceptional collaboration between departments, and consistency of daily workflows. When these things are not working as intended, they can contribute and lead to an employee experience of an unpleasant work place.
Whether your employees are dependent on an application or software for collaboration, there is little downside for them having access to a program that allows them to work smarter, faster, and be more productive. When you embed collaborative technologies into your operations and incentivize your employees to use them, you can completely transform your organization, allowing you to be more effective and more efficient.
Whether it is from a particular program, an electrical failure, or an internet outage, most C-suite executives have experience at one time or another in the last few decades with some type of IT system failure. Those executives can all tell you firsthand what the outcome of an IT system failure was: idle employees, lost revenue, or even lost customers. When you treat like a value asset, you make the investments in IT in a strategic way that will keep your employees productive and your business operating in a consistent and predictable manner.
True Competitive Advantage
Do you know what is more expensive than investing in new technology or new processes? NOT investing in new technology and processes.
Having an IT system that is down for hours or even days, having your data held hostage by a hacker, and the overhead costs of idle employees can be substantial. So understanding the obvious costs of an unstable system is straightforward. However, the real return on investing new technology and processes (or the cost of not doing it) is in the profound impact on your operations.
Investing in technology and technical processes that are strategically aligned with your near and long term business strategy not only makes you more cost effective….it make you more effective. Period. Moreover, being more effective increases the likelihood that you will actually execute your strategy. That sounds like the definition of using IT as a strategical advantage.
Better Customer Experience
Have you ever heard the old saying: early is on time, on time late, and late is unacceptable? I think sayings live to an old age by staying relevant for a long time. This one certainly applies today.
In the digital age, most people expect things right now. We all carry the information superhighway in our pockets, so most people have become accustom to the instant gratification of having everything digitally available to them at a moment’s notice. Your customers are no different. When your customers can reach out to your company via email, social media, text message, chat-boxes, or any other way you might have available, you have an opportunity to elevate their customer experience. Giving your customers the ability to conduct business whenever and by whichever means they like the most instills a value you cannot find with every business.
You can use IT to enable your customers to make payments for services or buy products quickly and without the hassle of talking to someone. Whether they go online to make a purchase or to put in an invoice number for a previous purchase, making payments online is a convenience that most people expect when dealing with businesses in the digital age.
The number of reasons you interact with your customers drives the number of ways you can use IT do make their experience more rewarding and your processes more efficient.
Gone are the days of IT simply just being a tool to keep your business running. In today’s world, IT must become a value asset used to improve and grow your business.
Cut Financial Costs
Have you ever worked with operational systems that, even when stable, were just painful to use? The time to process is long, the chance for errors is high, and the ability to analyze your business accurately and effectively is almost non-existent. Over the years, we have used the term “technical debt” to describe the implied cost of having to redo software development because you took an easy but less effective approach to development. Many times when software is developed and then licensed to the actual end using companies, someone other than the software developer makes the payment of the technical debt. Since most licensed applications do not allow the licensee to modify the software, you are stuck paying for the inefficiencies and management decision-making limitations inherently imposed.
If you find yourself in this situation then you have an opportunity for significant return on an IT investment. Finding the right operational ERP system installed on the right platform and implemented with the right level of planning, training, and implementation methodology can help you transform your company. Over the years, we have enjoyed watching (and helping) people move from poorly designed systems (both the software and the human processes) into systems with a strong foundation built with the concept of continuous improvement. The transition is both beautiful and profound. The financial costs removed by eliminating this “technical debt” are substantial but tend to pale in comparison to improvement in operational maturity provided. Having both returns is even better.
About Custom Information Services
CIS has been in business since 1989 implementing business lines of technology. Every business leader would be well served to learn our unique perspective around technology costs and results.