Advancements in technology have fundamentally changed how customers interact with businesses. Customers have access to more information, are aware of a growing list of competing products, evaluate their options in new ways, and even make purchases differently. Almost everything businesses have grown accustomed to is changing, and it will continue to do so. The seemingly unquenchable demand for new technology has unavoidably increased our expectations of the companies we chose to buy from. Regardless if you are B2B or B2C, the bar has been raised, and customers are expecting you to keep up with their new demands.
A big problem with this new environment is that a number of businesses still treat IT like they did 20 years ago. The typical IT person, IT department, or external break fix IT solution is paid to “keep things running”. The more technology the employees and executives want to experiment with and test, the more friction and tension is created with this style of IT, almost to the point of creating an adversarial relationship. You see this friction in very slow roll-outs, system downtime, resource allocation issues, antiquated technology, and business process interruptions.
Equally problematic, business owners are not interested, or prepared to have in-depth technical conversations with IT departments, and IT departments are not prepared to have in-depth, strategic conversations with the business owners. Herein lies the problem. Business owners and IT are speaking different languages. In this scenario misunderstanding and confusion will almost always set in. The trick is to stop trying to translate the conversations, and start making the necessary adjustments to speak the same language.
Successful businesses today are making these moves. They are pushing the “keep it running” technical conversations outside of the company, and converting IT departments into business/technology analysts that focus on how technology is used within the business. Instead of having conversations about hard drives and servers, they are having conversations about workflows and processes. Instead of talking about backups, they are talking about system automation. Instead of talking about upgrading software, they are talking about moving to software that is better aligned with the company’s strategic initiatives. This is the IT of the future, and this is the IT that business owners need to be building now.
Technology is being integrated into almost everything you can think of, from beds, to golf clubs, to clothes, to ovens. And it’s not just products and services, IT is being integrated into our business models. The ability to talk the same language as your technical evangelists is key to keeping up with the transformations that are happening in every industry. There is no stopping consumer demand, and therefore, no stopping the increase in technical expectations you need to contend with.
Take it from one of the founders of Wired, Kevin Kelly, who said in regards to technical advancements, “the next 20 years are going to make the last 20 years just pale [in comparison]”
The time to act is now!