Information Technology – Commodity or Strategy?

Small businesses are always on the lookout for what can differentiate them in the marketplace, but are they overlooking a common business tool?

Information technology (IT) is often thought of as the tool used for general back office functions and office employee productivity. Without these basic functions, businesses would come to a grinding halt, which makes it easy to just think of IT as a commodity. With this thinking, your goal becomes getting the level of service necessary to maintain daily operations (aka “keep the lights on”) for the lowest cost. With this approach, you may be missing out on capitalizing on IT as a business strategy.

Following are some ways that you can think strategically about IT:

  • Evaluate daily processes – Are there bottlenecks where work slows down or becomes inefficient? What if utilizing IT beyond the basic functionality would eliminate or reduce these inefficiencies? With the gain in efficiency your employees could spend more time innovating and working on your core revenue-generating services.
  •  Improving your product or service – What opportunities are there to use technology to improve the delivery of your product or service and make you stand out from your competition? Perhaps customization can be added to the ordering process to give customers more choices that are important to them and would differentiate your product from your competition.
  • Improve your website – Most prospective customers or clients use your website to research your company, service and products. Make sure your website reflects up-to-date technology, is user-friendly and mobile friendly as most customers are accessing the site via a smartphone or tablet device.
  • Track your IT initiative metrics – calculate the percentage of your technology budget that supports projects that drive profitability initiatives for the company.  If that number is close to or above 50%, you are on the right track, if not, revisit the points above to see what you can do to better leverage your investment.

These and many other questions can be answered by completing a technology strategic plan. If you are in need of advice on how to start building or enhancing your existing technology strategic plan, consider contacting  our Technology Guidance for Executive practice leader, Lisa Dunnigan  at 651-483-4521 for more information.



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