Business Decisions Involving Technology Is NOT About The Technology

Computer Rude Goldberg contaption

by Rand Manasse

How often have we heard that the new system is a failure?

 

Just recently United Airlines had to shut down flights for the better part of a day because the “system” did not work.  The common lament is that the system does not work and is jeopardizing our relationships with customers, vendors or partners. Which system were they referring to?  The technology or operational system?

 

Businesses face problems because they treat change involving new technology differently than they treat the decisions they have to make with other processes.  


Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great”, stated it very well in that the question is not “What is the role of technology in building great companies?” Rather, the real question is “How do those who build great organizations think differently about technology?

 

The difference between the two questions is subtle but the response can make the difference between technology that is implemented on time, on budget and successfully or the alternative. To apply this underlying principle when making technology decisions just forget that this decision has anything to do with technology. As absurd as this sounds; technology is something we fear because many of us lack the necessary knowledge to evaluate technology and how it will interact with our business. This fear is a basic human emotion regarding change.  But do not fear because as a business leader we do not fear business decisions!

 

The decision that involves technology is a decision to solve a business need.  First, define the business need and then develop the processes to solve the need.  Remember to forget about the technology!  When the solution has been defined then ask the question “How can we improve the process?”.  Sometimes the answer will be as simple as a non-technological process improvement.  Other times the solution will be to implement that new whiz bang technology. 

 

Having the technology follow the business process will make the technology fit the business, not the other way around.  This process almost always guarantees success.

 

A simplified example would be a need to transport a product from New York to California. If you make the technology decision first you might use a "MACK" truck to solve the problem.  When you evaluate the business process then apply the technology you find that a smaller cargo van will suffice. Two different solutions solve the same problem but one works well and the other solution is costly and probably will not be ready on time.

 

Some basic rules to follow when working with technology decisions:

 

1.     Be open to change, but approach everything as a business decision and not a technology decision. You do not need to know everything about every new technology.

 

2.     You also do not need to yield control of the decision making process to a technology expert at your company.

 

3.     Focus on your established business processes and goals. These will guide you through new technology opportunities.

 

4.     Change and technology are good when they fit the business goals.

 

5.     In the end it’s simply a business decision, not a technology decision.

 

As always, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think. If you need help in building value into your business, please contact me at 877.341.5200 or rmanasse@referencesystems.com.

 

To your success!

 

Rand

 

Image Credit: Phil Manker

 

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