I have been in the technology business providing technology services to small and mid-sized businesses for over 20 years and surprisingly through all the change, there is a serious gap I continue to observe…
The technology department does not know the business
Whether using in-house technology staff or an outside technology provider, I find the technology group may know what business they are in, but they no little else. The obvious question is – how can a business get the most out of technology when they do not fully understand the business?
Signs your technology department is not involved enough in the business
- A representative from technology is not included in business strategy sessions
- The business does not have a technology steering committee or similar group
- The technology staff do not know all the software the business is using and more importantly why
- Business management makes technology decisions without proactively including the technology department
If you have any of these occurring in your business, you are not getting the most out of your technology function. As a result, technology may be adequately supporting the business, but they are not provide the real value – enabling the business. This creates a very real gap between the business and IT that is overlooked and unattended. In fact, in most cases it is a case of “I don’t know what I don’t know”.
Most small to mid-sized organizations do not have a Chief Information Officer (CIO) or access to one
Any large organization has a dedicated CIO with dedicated staff with the primary objective to be an integral part of the business strategy process to ensure technology continues to align to the business and provide tangible value on an ongoing basis. Small to mid-sized organizations have the same need and can obtain the same value, they just do not know to include it or assume it may be too expensive.
While true that a full-time CIO often is cost prohibitive for small to mid-sized organizations, there is little reason why this valuable service cannot be obtained on a fractional ‘as needed’ basis.
Business Strategy Model
Although admittedly simplistic, the graphic below shows how business strategy works from the top down, from development to execution.
In real terms, the same model is used for technology (place “technology” in front of each level and you have it).
Most technology departments and providers deliver the bottom half of the pyramid and do so really well. However, this is just the basics any technology department should be expected to deliver. What is missing is a defined approach to address the top half of the pyramid.
As shown in the following graphic, the top portion of the model is often overlooked or missing in technology delivery.
Technology departments and providers lack a refined method to deliver strategic services
The reality is most technology departments and providers do not possess the experience or skillset to deliver the high-level strategic services. Complicating matters, it is not a skill that can be simply ‘turned on’. It takes years of hands-on experience working with business senior leadership along with various strategy methodologies to provide these services.
A defined repeatable methodology and process is required for IT strategy delivery
At Fluid, we have a proven methodology for addressing the strategy gap to work with our business partners to deliver technology at a strategic level. In almost every case, our clients have never experienced this level of strategic service. In fact, most require training to take full advantage of the benefits. Once we engage with the business, the senior management not only welcomes the service, they devour it at an increasing level. What we call virtual CIO services becomes an addiction for the business. The results are tangible and IT value increases from a necessary business function to a strategic business enabler.