Necessary Evil or Competitive Advantage: How Does Your Company View IT?

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With very few exceptions, all businesses rely on technology to some degree, and most rely on it heavily. But businesses differ in terms of how they view their IT investment. Some view technology as a money pit that they can’t live without – a necessary evil. Others view technology as a tool that can help them compete in an economy of “disruption.” They know that in the 21st century, the companies who use technology as an engine for innovation and transformation (think Uber) are the ones likely to succeed.

While there are certainly valid reasons for some business owners to view their IT as a necessary evil, it is possible for every business – regardless of size – to transform their technology into an engine for growth.

When IT Is a Necessary Evil

Before we get into how your company’s IT could become a competitive advantage, we should acknowledge the reasons many business owners view it as a necessary evil.

First – we all know the reasons why IT is necessary. At the very least, email is likely an important means of communication for your company. Beyond that, you may have file servers storing crucial data. And you probably have at least one (and probably more) software applications that are central to your business processes. This is the world we live in.

But we also live in a world where “technical difficulties” are a reality. Internet connections go down. Software has bugs, and it doesn’t always get us the exact information we need, or automate our processes exactly how we would like. Computers slow down. Employees can’t print. Hard drives crash. Ransomware infects computers. Data is breached.

Technology facilitates our modern business workflows, but it also throws wrenches into those workflows when it doesn’t work properly. And beyond that, it requires serious investment – and the costs only go up when you have to pay someone to fix the problems.

IT is necessary, but especially when it’s not working right, it’s hard not to view it as a cost—a drain on your business—rather than an investment—a catalyst for success and growth.

Imagining Better IT

Imagine that your company’s IT changed overnight. Suddenly, you feel like you had the right tools for your work. Your applications give you the data you need, and automate the right processes. The amount of slowdowns due to internet outages and computer issues reduce drastically, and employee productivity improves demonstrably. Internet outages? A thing of the past. While you know you have to continually invest in IT, you know that your investment is going to the right hardware, software, and services for your needs, and that you will get the maximum life out of it. You can sleep well at night knowing that your systems aren’t on the verge of crashing and that your data is safe from hackers.

Now ask yourself—if this were your business’s reality, how would that affect your company’s growth and overall performance in a competitive landscape? If you had access to better data than your competitors, were able to automate more efficiently, and drastically reduced work stoppages and slowdowns for your employees, wouldn’t you be in a better position to succeed?

This all may sound like a pipe dream, but it isn’t. It’s an attainable possibility for all companies, regardless of their size. Whether it’s advanced analytics from a key software solution, process automation, or just increased uptime and performance of employees’ computers, your technology can be a competitive advantage.

3 Steps for Transforming IT from Necessary Evil to Competitive Advantage

If you currently view IT as a necessary evil, it’s likely that you’re missing out on the potential technology can offer your business. Transforming your IT into a competitive advantage won’t happen overnight, but it is within your reach, if you follow these three steps:

  1. Don’t accept “normal” results from your technology. If you know that you’re living with outdated, overmatched, or buggy IT, recognize that what is “normal” for your company is substandard for others—including your competition. Even if you think your IT is “fine,” consider talking to an IT professional that you trust to determine if your systems are truly performing as well as they could.
  2. Align IT strategy with business strategy. If you don’t have an IT strategy, it’s time to develop one. IT can only give your business a leg up over competition if you have long- and short-term plans for implementing the right technology—within your budget—to achieve your business goals and increase efficiency. This is only possible with a data-driven approach to determining what investments will make the biggest impact for your company. If your IT provider does strategic consulting for you, make sure you’re asking the right questions, and that their recommendations match up with your actual business needs.
  3. Prioritize solving IT support issues before they occur. Whether you have internal IT staff or outsource to a managed service provider, understand that answering support requests should be only part of their job. Their other, more important function should be to prevent as many issues as possible from occurring in the first place. This is only possible with a systematic and continuous approach toward aligning your technology with best practices and industry standards.

Take the Next Step

Do you wonder if your company’s IT could be holding back your growth, rather than facilitating it? Schedule an appointment to talk with our experts about the potential of your company’s IT.