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?
Do you work for an organization that has multiple locations and or field staff, and do whatever HQ (the mother ship) tells you to do because that’s the way it is. You have to use their system, which tools to use, and they never ever ask you what you really need to get the job done right. If they do, nothing happens normally and the frustration continues. Are you continually fighting to be heard and have given up because HQ doesn’t seem to be listening?
There has always been a disconnect in most organizations with this kind of structure, mostly because they are out of sight and out of mind. It’s a long distance relationship, these relationships break down quickly and create a lack of trust for the reason’s I mentioned earlier. The key to solving this breakdown takes effort from all parties involved, but in the end, someone from Headquarters must take the time to truly care and put forward solutions for everyone not just HQ. Lip service is a short-term time buyer, but you will lose trust with remote locations and field staff if you don’t deliver, once again you will be part of the problem not the solution. CIO’s & I.T. Leaders must go to the distance, go to the remote offices and take inventory of the desired needs and the requested functionality. Sit down and truly listen so you can get a more accurate picture, this action alone can build trust just because you made the effort to invest in those that feel they’re not being heard.
This is an opportunity, not an opportunity to buy time, get votes or support, but to deliver or you are done. You are fighting politics, which means you must get the popular vote or life gets interesting.To do get the popular vote you must be a person of your word, that’s it! I didn’t say it was going to be easy, it’s the nature of people you are up against. Authoritative attitudes no longer have a place, organizations now are WOM (Word Of Mouth) driven and as you know, it can kill you just as fast as it helps you. As we get more and more connected Headquarters can no longer turn a blind I or just give lip service. Today’s Social Media Networks feed into instant gratification, we have made communication instant, meaning you don’t have the luxury of time anymore. Kill or be killed.
Businesses have a LifeStream and this stream is the tool of choice for the masses to share, to collaborate and make decisions. Beware the LifeStream, be aware that “we the people” are turning the tables, the power is no longer in the hierarchy of organizations…it’s at the ground level. The flattening is happening at a rapid pace all over the world, the Internet is the game changer and the people are not only watching, they are listening, and then they are acting. With this new found power, organizations must become more transparent, deliver on promises, and more importantly, treat staff the same as a valued customer.
So how do you get there, how do you make the shift? Each organization will figure it out in the traditional way before they get it right in a social way, they will deal with the squeaky wheel first before they sit down with the people and truly listen. I would recommend that CEO’s & Presidents instruct their CIO’s to go to the basement and find out what’s NOT working and what IS working, then present the findings to the Executives & Board if necessary. Don’t think in terms of a project or an ERP implementation, think of it as a way of getting your house in order, is the family happy and do they have what they need to ensure your success. The best way to do that is to go to them and ask, otherwise you will hear about it on Twitter, FaceBook and the like, the beginning of the end if your not careful.
The old lesson of STOP, LOOK & LISTEN comes to mind when dealing with your constituents throughout the organization, then add the word DELIVER when you have done the first three.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org