Why Do You Need a Technology Strategy?
©2005, by Hillel Glazer, Entinex, Inc.
Between any two businesses, with all other factors being equal, the company that makes better use of technology will outperform the company that takes a lackadaisical attitude towards technology.
It’s a Technology Strategy that lays-out how a company defines the role technology plays within their business. The technology strategy can often be that section of their master business plan that talks about how technology will support the business. Technology does play a role in every company. However, the complexity of that role determines whether a formal technology strategy is needed.
If the technology of a business amounts to a cash register, fax machine, and phone line, then a business can probably do well without a formal technology strategy. But even then, the business owner ought to consider a few things such as differences in advertising and order processing that result from the different ways in which someone can place an order. When a business expects only walk-in transactions, the strategy is different from when people might call or fax an order.
Even in the simplest of businesses, money can be made or lost as a function of whether technology is put into its proper perspective. What would happen if a company with a strong "walk up" business ran a successful ad campaign marketing the ability to call in orders and have product shipped, but had no way of efficiently pulling stock, packaging, shipping, and invoicing?
This problem is magnified when a business ads an E-commerce component to their sales and is further magnified when they are successful and grow. The Web and Internet are equally potent in the opportunity as in the risks.
For example, a retail store was looking to expand to a second location. Their point-of-sale software required the owners to create a storage space on the Internet in order to synchronize the data from the two stores. Their one-store operation wasn’t even connected to the Internet, and, they have no in-house software or networking expertise. This simple change to a two-store business created an entire area of need they had never anticipated.
At some level, a technology strategy is needed for any company. Art Jacoby, a Catonsville-based business growth advisor points out, "when looking for ways to do a better job of capturing my clients’ needs without disrupting the flow of conversation and without forcing me to take notes then re-write them, I realized that my practice suddenly relied on my ability to integrate technology into my everyday activities." Not being a technology expert Jacoby noted, "streamlining my own efforts are one challenge, but then making it possible for me to interact with my clients over the Internet presented an entirely new set of needs I had to plan out if I was going to make it work."
In larger organizations, a technology strategy takes on a much greater role. COLA, a leading provider of medical lab accreditation and education headquartered in Columbia found itself "re-inventing" its entire operation from sales through delivery, operations, and service on all levels of the company. Before it could even begin the process of carrying out its re-invention, COLA needed to know what technologies would be part of the "new" company and how they’d be used to bring about the company’s business strategy.
Says, Doug Beigel, CEO, "we have this vision of our company that relies heavily on technology like it never did before. The market is such that we only have one shot at getting this right or we won’t be around to pick up the pieces and try again." The company’s reinvention and reliance on technology were born out of a strategic decision based in sales, marketing and the company’s culture. "We knew what we wanted to accomplish but we also knew that we couldn’t get there from here with our current technology," Beigel explains. "Allowing our technology to continue to grow organically would have been a recipe for failure. We had an excellently written business plan, that wasn’t complete until the technical piece was added to it. With everything we do heading towards being done with technology, our strategy couldn’t be executed without it."
In each case, the role of technology is driven by the role of information. In these examples and in many other businesses, questions about information must first be addressed before strategies about technology can be mapped out. Frequently, the business processes that generate or consume information must be cleaned-up or ironed-out first.
Once the information flow is understood, when a company decides that it is time for them to start using technology as a part of how they get business done and make money, then taking a technology strategy approach will help answer:
Any business plan includes how the company will make money. Technology plays some role in that process. Raising revenue or lowering operating costs are the ROI of technology. Businesses without a plan will likely fail. Businesses without a plan for technology will likely miss opportunities and spend unnecessarily. Business must know what to expect from technology and to prepare for what it takes to keep up with success let alone knowing how the technology works and any business process pitfalls introduced by technology.
About Hillel Glazer
Hillel Glazer is founder, Principal & CEO of Entinex, Inc. a technology strategy consulting firm. His 23-year technology, management and consulting career includes a dozen years in systems, software and industrial engineering with several US federal agencies. He's been following process-centered management methodologies such as TQM, IPPD, ISO 9000, and CMM® as they migrated from the Federal to the private sector. Hillel applies his skills and experience in the Internet, financial, medical, industrial, defense and commercial economies. In Entinex, he focuses on issues and decisions surrounding how business processes are integrated with the processes of using and developing technology. By specializing in bringing management-driven engineering principles together with business and operations strategies, Hillel's work results in thoroughly planned and comprehensive business solutions for technology developers and consumers alike. Hillel is a frequent writer and presenter in the field of process engineering speaks internationally on the subject of process discipline in the information-age.
Phone: +1 877-ENTINEX
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