Picture the scene; as the Managing Director, your IT Director comes into your office and tells you they would like to spend some of the budget upgrading the IT infrastructure to improve network stability. The infrastructure is coping at the moment, and they tell you things should hold as you grow, but they can’t be certain, and the entire business may feel the strain on the infrastructure.
In this scenario, you could choose to invest a lot, bringing everything in the business up to top-spec, but this is, of course, an extremely pricey option.
Or, you could choose to hold off investing, as your growth plans are more important. Once you grow, you can invest in the infrastructure.
Which is the right answer? Well, perhaps unsurprisingly (and depending on your own personal circumstances) the answer lies somewhere in the middle, and with a change of mindset.
Technology can often be the unsung hero in businesses, but the fact is virtually every company today couldn’t run without it. From manufacturing machinery that can cost millions of pounds to simple emails sent back and forth in an office, technology is everywhere.
So why do so many business leaders see IT as a cost rather than an asset? Often IT is seen as a department always with its hand out looking to fix things that have suddenly broken, and without really making any perceived improvements for the users. With such heavy reliance on IT in the workplace, it’s time to start treating your IT department and their recommendations differently.
In 2013, Gartner’s Peter Sondergaard said, “Everyone Is A Technology Company”, meaning every company needs and uses technology to run their organisation and stay competitive in the marketplace.
If you want growth, you need stable foundations to grow from, and IT infrastructure is essential in establishing that.
IT has come a long way since the old days of boffins in a basement. CXOs now have a much better understanding of the external risks and threats like ransomware and digital scams, which can only be good news. The next challenge is tackling the threats that lie within your organisation that can come from an ageing infrastructure. Understanding these risks needs to be a significant part of the discussions when looking forward.
Technology has a huge part to play in your organisational business planning, and ultimately its value, so it’s essential that IT has a dedicated and knowledgeable voice in the boardroom.
Any ambitious growth plans mean nothing if your systems buckle under the strain of increased traffic. Moving forward can become painful without the proper foundations in place, frustrating users and customers alike at the technology’s inability to perform when it needs to.
The answer to the question posed at the start “how much should I invest in my IT?” isn’t a number, it’s a mindset.
We all know that being proactive is far superior to a reactive response in decision making across the board, but it doesn’t have to be huge lump sum spending. Technology upgrades in business work best incrementally. If your IT hasn’t been a priority in the past, there’s no wonder your jaw hits the floor when you’re handed a quote for an essential upgrade. Involving your IT department at a strategic planning stage in the boardroom is essential to looking to the future and upgrading at a steady pace, not all at once.
It’s also worth bearing in mind the incremental change is easier to cope with for your staff, rather than a whole raft of changes all at once. A good example of this is Windows 10- an operating system that will continuously evolve and update, unlike those of the past, i.e. XP, Vista, Windows 7 and so on.
Of course, there can always be nasty surprise costs around the corner in business, and IT is not immune from these. But, but taking care of your technology rather than neglecting it, the number and cost of knee-jerk upgrades will reduce significantly, bringing better operational and financial stability.
And it’s likely you can make even further gains using IT if you give your IT team a chance to research and explore alternative solutions outside of the box. Creating a collaborative and open environment can spur on innovation in tech teams, which in turn will only benefit the business on the whole.
Taking the time to consider the technology that will help deliver your business strategy will pay dividends in the longer term. It’s simply about a change of mindset.
Posted by Jordan Maciver on Friday, February 9, 2018
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