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Posts Tagged ‘Information Technology’

Two Key Factors To Your Social Media Success

Technology is growing at an exponential rate; we truly have no way of keeping up via traditional means when it comes to tracking. Organizations struggle to stay focused, struggle to maintain, and struggle to provide systems and services that meet their business objectives. The shift in how business gets done is making it more and more difficult to maintain profit margins and business lifestyles that most are accustom to.

Today’s I.T. Strategic Planning is shedding its skin and taking on a new look and meaning. Ramping up I.T. staff is no longer the norm; reducing I.T. Teams and virtualization is; it allows organizations to be more financially responsible. CIO’s have a tougher time justifying their existence, the role is becoming more and more extinct, and is easily handled without the large investment in overhead. As much as it pains me to say that, I have to accept the new landscape of how Information Technology is implemented and managed. There’s still a need for CIO’s in large organizations but new companies are building streamlined teams, technology allows for startups to have fewer management roles. This new model allows for higher profits and less management of people.

Customer service is making a huge shift in what it means, Customer Service or Support is NOT fixing or adding a new feature, it is about Communication and Solving problems. This gap is hurting far too many businesses, they need to pay attention and listen to what their customers are saying about them, what they want from them.

Small businesses are literally taking a fetal position when it comes to understanding the change taking place, that the Internet is empowering the individual rather than the large organization. The power of the person has been lifted to a level no one saw coming, all because of the Internet. The Internet is the game changer; the Internet was and is clearly misunderstood by the smaller Mom & Pop businesses. The Internet solved the problem of digital distribution, this is an Access Based Economy where we click to get. The transition for small business can be easy to most difficult, undertsanding technology or how technology will help them is the key.

If there ever was a need in your local marketplace it’s helping those small business understand that they won’t be able to continue as they have and enjoy the life they hoped to build when they opened the doors. More importantly, those business owners need to learn about humility, be willing to say they don’t understand and do indeed need help with the Internet. Most small business owners had an Entrepreneurial Seizure, they thought because they knew how to do the work they knew how to run a business. I recommend reading Michael Gerber’s book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It (Amazon Affiliate Link) to get a clear understanding of what I’m referring to.

Today a couple of things scream for attention in my humble opinion:

1.    Listening – Listen to what is being said about your brand and or business.
2.    Filtering Content is more important than creating it.

Listening & Filtering Content are two key factors to your Social Media success, small & big businesses at large still haven’t grasped these two concepts with any kind of clarity.

We are in an Extreme Reputation Economy, popularity is becoming a Social Capital, and it will be as valuable as real money in the coming months if it hasn’t happened already. How you present yourself, your product, and your business will generate a reputation, take the time to craft your reputation.

What do you think?

<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0887307280?ie=UTF8&tag=owengrea-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0887307280″>The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It</a><img src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=owengrea-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0887307280″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

I.T. Strategic Planning – Objectives

In an earlier post I covered what your KRA’s might look like, in this article I want to go over what your objectives might be in your plan. You know better than I what the hot buttons are in your organization, the critical over the urgent and so on. But your plan is about the bigger picture so you need to always be looking ahead and plan accordingly. You want to also consider dates or deadlines on these objectives, otherwise you may never deliver in a timely fashion.

Here is an example list of Objectives:

1. Implement Core Applications – 1Q – 2011

2. Provide constituent self-serve 24/7 – 3Q – 2010

3. Provide Infrastructure to Support XYZ Application – 2Q – 2010

4. Train staff on all core applications – 4Q – 2010 (before launching)

5. Provide Data to staff where and when they might need it and in the format they want it in. – 4Q – 2010

Traditionally, after you have identified your objectives you would then look at your action plans and set dates for those items as well. I’ll cover that step in our mock I.T. Strategic Plan.

I.T. Strategic Planning – KRA's

Possibly the third step in your plan will be a category called KRA ( Key Result Areas). This area will be different for each organization, this is due to different infrastructures and software that may already be in place. This is more of an observation and desire to improve on existing services provided by your current I.T. team.

I have listed 5 items below that might be on your list under KRA’s, also keep in mind every experienced I.T. leader will view these items differently and might not agree so try to keep an open mind.

Key Result Area’s

1. Integrate Core Application – you may have multiple applications that don’t speak to each other and you want to solve this short coming.

2. Constituent Self-serve Via the Internet – you may want to give more and easier access to data via the internet to staff.

3. Realign and Train Existing Staff – an obvious one for improving the skill set of all staff members using core applications

4. Improve Support To Field Staff – if you have staff in the field, your goal should be to get them more connected to HQ or central office.

5. Provide a stable IT Infrastructure – this should be an ongoing goal from day one and never end.

I hope that helps you in designing your I.T. Strategic Plan, your list will look different based on organizational needs, but you get the idea.

Feel free to leave questions and comments below, until next time.

How Do I Implement Social Media?

socialmediacluster

There are two questions that come up in almost every conversation I have on the topic of Social Media here in my local community, not online but offline. It never fails, these are the most asked questions I face.

1.) How Do I make or Implement Social Media in my Business?

2.) How do I make money and get the appropriate ROI using Social Media?


That’s more than two questions and alot to unpack, but that’s how they end up coming to me.

Keep in mind, I live in Canada and we typically are not early adopters on most things, we are at least 6 – 18 months behind our neighboring domestic USA. But that’s another story. We tend to be behind on what these new technology tools and movements are, what they mean and how to integrate them into our businesses and lives. So when the questions come from the executives the department leaders don’t have the right answer and worse yet they try to figure it out on their own, using old metrics and methods to generate some kind of understanding.

These two questions are hard to answer over a coffee or even in a board room, bringing in someone who has an understanding and is actually involved or an early adopter having success with Social Media to walk through some very important questions. Success doesn’t have to mean they are making millions, it means they have done many things right putting them in a position to monetize their passion or existing business.

There is many a debate on where Social Media fits in an organization, the Marketing / PR  Department, HR, IT Department and so on. I would suggest to you it fits into all three. The Marketing  / PR Department will most likely be the message creator for consistency purposes and also would hand off the Social Media chores to the Online Community Communications person. The HR Department would be involved for NDA purposes and orientation of new and existing staff, this would include the Internet Policy that the I.T. Department most likely helped develop. I.T. supports and ensures up time for all aspects of Information Technology needs.

I am assuming here that Information Technology was implemented properly in  the organization, which means, I.T. is in line with business needs and processes for the purpose of obtaining the goals of the organizations business plan. As you can see there is much that needs to be discussed before you venture out into this environment without building a team to discuss how you will proceed. The key is to bring someone in your area that is in the know and can help your team by ensuring the right questions are being asked and that they are getting answered. This person is much like a Project Manager with a difference, he/she is a lighthouse, a beacon and a sounding board. In the end it is up to the organization to decide what and how they want to proceed.

The point of this article is not lay out what you have to do step by step, but to prompt you to bring in someone who is knowledgeable, who is respected and recognized as someone in Social Media circles that can truly assist your organization. Someone with a strong background in technology and online marketing. This person can help you build the appropriate team, that will go a long way to ensuring success in developing  your Social Media Strategy.

If you are in need of help, feel free to contact me at: owen@owengreaves.com

I.T. Decisions – Who Makes Them In Your Organization?

executives

How are I.T. Decisions made in your business or organization? Who makes those decisions? One of the challenges with non-technical upper management decision makers getting involved is, it’s usually about them wanting a particular toy or functionality. I.T. decisions are based on one or a select group of people because they are the bosses and get what they want or it’s in the name of getting something done. I have found that making technology decisions in that fashion usually cripples your ability to shift gears down the road, you end up implementing the wrong solution and you spend two to three times the dollars fixing the problem later. What you do today matters, do all you can to prevent it and do the painful work of finding a more rational solution if you can. Oh ya, whenever possible avoid database conversions as it will add to the scope of the project(s).

On your journey to make things easier for you, collect and database all business processes in your organization and weight them for measurement, then consult all subject matter experts in the organization to ensure by-in before you go off finding a solution. Remember, it’s not who wants it or what kind of technology that’s the issue, what’s paramount is knowing what your organization needs. Which means you have a good understanding of the company you work for and it’s systems.

Another thing to consider, what is the perceived value your business or organization has on Information Technology and the Systems it uses to organize data. If your new prospect or management team doesn’t understand the value of technology, you now have an educational task on your hands.

Another challenge business owners have is discerning who they should trust, there are so many EXPERTS out there confusing and complicating the problem. There are key questions that can be asked to qualify the said consultant to assist you and your organization with technology strategies but that’s another article.

The point is, organizations handcuff themselves by allowing only non-technology people to make long term technology decisions. That’s not all bad but it’s not wise to have 100% of all I.T. decisions made by them in isolation. In most cases they will invest in something and then hand it off to the I.T. department with a note attached, ” Make this work with our systems”. They know what they want the system to do and or what they want to have happen. They don’t understand how existing systems work and what they will or won’t work with, at the core, non-technology people are unable to see and know where technology is going, what may solve problems in 3-5 years…don’t worry most of us don’t, but, technology people know how and where to find out. They understand the order in which you should proceed, they understand what you have and what you should look for in solutions.

If you have questions feel free to contact me at: owen@owengreaves.com