Business Go-Slow: Is It Your Employees or Your Tech?
Colin Baumgart, Microsoft South Africa's Consumer and Device Sales Director says that when it comes to IT within a large business environment, it's important to look at it in a multi-dimensional way, taking all the various facets into account.
He adds that it's not just about an organisation's devices or the software that is installed, it's about the entire IT ecosystem and how it enhances business functions.
He highlights how productivity, performance and security are the three main things you should consider with regards to keeping your large business updated with the newest technology. "If your IT systems aren't bolstering productivity and performance levels as well as safeguarding your business from potential data breaches and other security concerns, it's time to rethink your strategy. Ask the question how is IT enabling or hindering my organisation to achieve our goals and aspirations."
The causes of business stagnation
"If we look at the analytics we have available on the latest software and newest platforms, they make a huge difference when it comes to enhancing an organisation's overall productivity and stability, making it both sensible and crucial to update your IT systems as often as you can." He adds "With modern software, you can even start building dashboards to use for analytical purposes to measure when employees are the most productive, which tasks they spend most of their time on, how often they are in meetings, etc. This kind of information can help pinpoint employee-specific problems, which, combined with inefficient systems, result in slow business progress."
According to Baumgart looking at things from a large business perspective, something as small as device start-up time can play a much larger role in the grander scheme of things. "For example, if you have thousands of employees and it takes them five minutes to switch on their laptops every morning, you are losing a big chunk of productivity in the long run. It's also important to note that hardware and software go hand in hand because you can't have the functionality and security of a modern platform if you're still using an old device."
The benefits of technological updates and upgrades
Sadly a lot of larger organisations are still using old platforms because they are concerned about migrating all the applications they use to the new platform and the considerable cost involved in this process. However, the security, productivity and performance risks involved in not moving far outweigh the immediate cost a business will pay for long-term betterment. Furthermore, the use of outdated technology often causes downtime, and this has a ripple effect on progress, affecting employees at every level of an organisation. Hardware and software are getting updated regularly because new productivity modules are being developed and released all the time, with the very intention of elevating business systems. This means that an IT upgrade will ultimately save your business money in the long run.
"In addition to being financially advantageous, new technology offers better back-up and support strategies for large businesses. Deployment rates improve drastically, with the ability to scale numerous machines at the click of a button. From an employee perspective then, IT upgrades enable small enhancements to everyday tasks, which in turn, drive more productivity and time-saving capacity."
The impact of careful planning and technological enablement
Unfortunately the first stumbling block in any organisation is cost, because people view technological upgrades and updates in terms of a costly one-off expense, as opposed to a long-term improvement decision. Decision-makers need to consider what the new technologies will do for the productivity and the performance levels of the business, as well as what the return on investment will be. As mentioned, the large sum of money initially outlaid will be trumped by new business and long-run financial gain.
The way forward according to Baumgart is for CIOs and CEOs to consider liaising with IT partners to see what is available as most solutions can be tailored to your specific business needs. "For example, lifting and shifting to the Cloud is a good idea for a company that wants to increase their security and save on large infrastructure costs."
He adds that "a good starting point is understanding what you use your technology for, where the rest of your industry is going in terms of technological advancement, and most importantly, what the final touchpoint of your technology is. Ultimately, your IT strategy within your business needs to enables your overall strategy. Businesses of all sizes need to start putting a lot more thought into their IT strategies."
At the end of the day, an IT strategy belongs to the Leadership team, not just the CIO. Many businesses hold the flawed belief that all IT-related decisions need to be made by the CIO, when in actual fact, the highest level of management should be taking charge of these influential decisions. You can't put a price tag on productivity, performance or security. By giving your employees the right tools, in the form of updated devices and latest software, you are enabling them to do their jobs more efficiently, and in turn, garnering more success for your business in the future.