Let business strategy shape technology decisions to maximize investment


Keeping up to date with the latest technology trends can be a daunting proposition, especially as businesses seek to avoid disruption at the hands of new tools they had overlooked. Decision makers can let their eagerness to have a strategy for handling the latest technologies trump actual business goals if they aren’t careful. With technologies such as cloud computing and unified communication solutions enabling more mobile capabilities, organizations need to ensure they are adopting strategies that don’t simply use these tools for the sake of using them.


While it can be tempting to implement the latest solutions for the novelty, decision makers should ask if they are actually equipping workers with a worthwhile tool or simply burdening them with a new technology to learn, InfoWorld’s Brian Katz wrote in a recent column. The goal of mobile tools, especially, should be to make them a part of existing processes, he said. Businesses have actual needs that technology can address, and the goal of decision makers is to ensure that this is what they are doing, rather than chasing the next innovation.


“When the mix of devices and apps provide the tools for secure access to the corporate ecosystem, you know you have succeeded,” Katz wrote. “When your users can do that conference call from wherever they are, watching the presentation on their tablet, take a picture of that receipt and submit it, enter the clinical data as soon as they receive it patient-side, or do any other process that is part of your business, you know you have found the next thing.”


Identifying technology needs

Businesses should examine existing processes and determine where mobile tools can be implemented to enhance operations or introduce new productivity advantages, Forrester analysts Simon Yates and Clay Richardson noted in a recent SearchCIO article. Doing so requires identifying key customer touchpoints, potential pain points where there is a lack of synchronization and inefficient processes in the field. In turn, companies should determine which business applications can address those issues.


IT leaders should specifically look for any processes that are analog, that require human interaction or that may contain unnecessary steps, Yates and Richardson wrote. Anything that meets one of these three criteria may have inefficiencies that mobile-equipped workers can overcome. For instance, one hotel chain they profiled equipped housecleaning staff with a mobile app allowing them to report which rooms had been cleaned. Using this networked solution instead of a paper one, the hotels were able to increase early customer check-ins, leading to an improvement in customer satisfaction.


“The goal of any process transformation is efficiency: doing something faster, eliminating unnecessary or undesirable steps and codifying the way something is done to reduce exceptions,” Yates and Richardson explained.


To help identify and implement a custom solution that uses the latest technology to address specific business needs, companies can work with managed IT services firms. By bringing in an outside provider, organizations access the expert knowledge of professionals who have implemented solutions in the past and understand just how new mobile or networking capabilities can empower employees.