Any I.T. investment should consider and impact at least one of three business areas: lowering risk, lowering cost or adding value by improving margins. We preach this regularly with clients. Twenty years ago, we invested for the sake of “technology.” No one wanted to be left behind. Today, those tech investments need to be held up to the prism of business sense and projected financial outcomes.
If you invest, for example, in customer relationship management software, it should be because you know it will empower your sales and marketing teams to do more with less. It should be because from the top down, management believes that a better informed staff, one that knows the customer inside and out, is more likely to satisfy that customer with appropriate products and services over the long haul.
Similarly, an investment in barcoding or RFID should yield tangible cost reductions through improved throughput and lower labor costs. You can do more, faster with fewer mistakes. Ditto for warehouse management, and a host of other business functions that are simply made better when the business owners listen to the I.T. provider, whether that provider be an employee or an external provider.
The first step is recognizing that these days, virtually every business process involves I.T. and its integration with the business’ managers. Know where you’re headed, define the current problem, and then listen to how and where I.T. will make a difference. Then, act accordingly. The business you save may be your own.