What Others See Matters
Over the last several weeks, I've been talking about the strategic application of technology: how the timing of tech spending relates to material benefits, what you should expect as a return from your tech spend, and the improvements you should feel from improved speed, accuracy, and reliability.
In sum, what we've been talking about is managing technology spending to yield strategic and competitive advantages. If you're not proactively managing the technology problem, you're reacting to it - and probably hastily and poorly - and that doesn't inspire confidence in anybody.
Confidence is 360-degrees, baby.
If you're not controlling your IT spending or your spending doesn't line up with strategic outcomes, it's a problem that's visible to you, your employees, your suppliers, and your customers.
What does it say to these stakeholders when your company:
- Makes significantly more mistakes than your competitors?
- Is chronically late on assignments, appointments, and deliverables?
- Doesn't have the capability and convenience offered by your competitors?
- Isn't listening nor responding to consumer complaints, needs, and concerns?
- Is significantly more difficult to work with than other business partners because you don't have the automation to make their business processes more streamlined?
- You're using email, contact, calendar, and business productivity solutions that knowingly - based on their own terms and conditions - expose your customer's personal private information to spammers and advertisers?
- You don't respond when someone in your organization loses a cell phone, a laptop, or is hacked, nor attempt to understand your degree of exposure, risk, or legal obligation when these events occur?
- Never thinks twice about installing wireless electronic devices on a business network shared by point of sale stations or credit card swipes?
- You're down for a day, two, or three, after a catastrophic systems failure?
The point is that perceptions really do matter. They can say a lot about a company, its products and services, its management team ... It's a signal.
What do you think that message should be saying about your company?
Managing technology risk is part and parcel of modern business management today. Small business owners wear many hats and can't be expected to know everything about every subject, but that's why they hire CPA's, HR professionals, marketing companies, and web designers. They should also think very carefully and proactively about who they bring on as a trusted IT advisor.
Is it going to be your cousin? An intern? Another 'Geek-Guy' from down the road? Or somebody serious, with real business experience? Well, as they say ... the choice is yours.
Next: What is an Information System.