It happens time and time again.
An exciting new technology emerges and takes your industry by storm. Soon enough, your IT guys are called in to get themselves across it and get their employers onboard before the competition does.
After all, they are the people who get all this stuff aren’t they? Well, unfortunately, not always.
Because whilst its essential that all organisations keep on top of technology so as to keep themselves both relevant and competitive, more often than not their IT staff are ill-equipped to be able to advise them correctly.
Like a ship without a rudder
What many managers fail to realise is that IT departments can’t think on behalf of the departments they service. They aren’t managers, accounts people, marketers, manufacturers or service providers.
They simply assist organisations steamline their operations using technology.
Take websites for example. Cyberspace is littered with the corpses of failed attempts of IT departments to create an appropriate online showpiece for their organisations.
The usual result is a website that ‘works’ just fine, probably includes some cool capabilities, but fails to look or communicate very well at all.
And, ultimately, fails to deliver on its objectives.
IT’s bum rap
There are many websites out there that fit this description perfectly. Yet when bosses are quizzed about their reticence to embrace the online world, invariably their response is ‘tried it and it didn’t work’.
And when you analyse this scenario more closely, it’s not difficult to understand why.
By both their nature and purpose, IT people are charged with enabling their colleagues to perform their duties in the most efficient and convenient means possible – essentially greasing the wheels of commerce and industry to help achieve the most profitable result.
But whilst they generally excel at the enabling bit, they are less capable of utilising that technology to achieve a given outcome.
So to continue our website analogy, whilst they are more than capable of building a website that works, they can’t necessarily make it achieve the financial, operational, communication, promotion or sales objectives their employer requires.
And, in reality, nor should they.
Departments drive, IT enables
It’s actually unfair to expect IT employees or contractors to produce outcomes they have little fundamental experience in.
It’s really not up to IT staff to deliver a communications or sales result. It’s up to the organisation’s communications and marketing professionals to determine and execute the right messages and calls to action.
Whilst they may need the assistance of your IT staff to investigate, implement and roll out a new technology, it’s really up to the silo concerned to instigate and supervise such a project.
Advise and assist
Instead, a good IT department will keep other departments abreast of new technological developments and suggest how these can be explored further.
But ultimately it’s up to that department to supervise such an exploration, not leave it in the hands of IT, who are essentially flying blind.
So whenever your organisation is ready to explore the adoption of an important new technological development, it’s important to identify what the core benefit of that development is, be it automation, communication, sales, operations or administrative and allocate it accordingly.
That department can then team up with IT to explore and deliver the required outcome.
Because one thing’s for certain: there’s no point implementing IT for IT’s sake.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team, which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond. www.theeteam.com.au