Business analytics, big data, cloud... IT vendors often throw up numerous "<buzzword>" which they say can cure your organization of its ills. You would read the case studies and find your justification, to improve productivity or innovation, for putting money into deploying this technology for your organization.
But does your organization really need a new technology, which may simply be a different perspective of an existing technology? Or are you actually looking for a new solution based on the ICT tools your organization is already using?
Let's say you are a decision-maker in an organization which provides goods or services to customers, and has to offer customer service. And you now need to reduce cost by reducing the number of customer service staff, but at the same time, demand for your organization's customer service seems to be increasing. Operating customer service is becoming overwhelming and your organization recognizes it needs to adopt more automation to solve this problem, since adding staff will no longer be an option.
These are some business questions you might want to first answer:
- Does each customer case now involve more staff and/or more man hours?
- Are new customer cases increasingly caused by issues related to earlier cases?
- Are your staff members spending more personal time to cope with the increasing number of customer cases?
- Are the user interfaces of current IT systems hampering operations?
- Are all steps in the current processes necessary?
- Do most of the steps in the current processes require human discretion?
- Are there proprietary steps in the current processes which are limiting your options for ICT support?
If your organization does not even use its existing ICT tools to collect and store data to fulfil some of these answers, the introduction of any new IT buzzword will not necessarily do so.
No doubt the deployment of new technology may solve some of your organization's problems, such as improving productivity and introducing innovation in the workplace, but remember that this usually involves changes to two major segments: your staff, and your customers. Such changes also are typically inter-dependent and which can get complicated.
To find a solution that fixes or complements your current ICT system, you may need to work out your own set of business questions to determine if your organization needs a solution for one or more of these categories:
- infrastructure (including network, database and mobility)
- application (including data, information architecture and user interface)
Even within these broad categories, there are different IT specialists. Changing all layers at the same time may not necessarily be less disruptive.
For medical conditions, for instance, we know how to seek a second opinion from another medical professional. Yet for ICT matters, this does not seem to be often practiced at all. Consider hiring the services of an IT advisor whose role is not dependent on your organization and who ideally will not benefit from your organization's decisions to buy or not to buy the IT product or service.
Jumping into a new trend is not an upgrade if your organization merely ends up with variations of the same problems. It is never too late to revise your original principles. It may take longer than you wish and be frustrating, but you are more likely to reach a state of smoother operations which will be worth the while in the longer run.