In working with clients my objective is to understand what the business is trying to achieve and ensure that we have an IT function (in-house, external or a hybrid of both) whose purpose is to assist business managers in achieving their objectives.
This cuts both ways. Education, awareness and communication play a huge role. I work with IT teams to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to understand the business and the potential for them to add significantly to business performance. I work with business teams to ensure they have a better understanding of the potential options and assist them in putting frameworks in place for IT and business leaders to work together in creative and effective ways.
For any number of reasons there are challenges in integrating IT and business effectively. HR teams are busy with recruitment and policies, Finance teams are busy with reporting and filing, Marketing teams are busy with research and product development. IT teams are forever managing change, supporting end users, implementing systems upgrades and dealing with emerging technologies. All are experts in their own fields and are generally measured on performance within their own discipline. The challenge is to find ways to interact in effective ways – avoiding wasting people’s time on matters which can easily be resolved without their input, while ensuring the dialog that is required actually takes place.
IT is there to enable business to operate efficiently – perhaps through the automation of processes or more effective sharing of information. IT should support the required levels of flexibility within the business. The only approach that makes sense is an integrated one – business projects incorporating new or enhanced IT solutions.
Companies are embracing a range of technologies in moving their businesses forward. I work with businesses looking to deploy some or all of these technologies:
- Social networking – both within the enterprise and, externally, in working with customers, partners and suppliers. Social networking has become the norm in our personal lives– and there is an expectation that social networking type solutions should be available in the workplace. Companies are also looking to monitor and/or manage their presence on the established social networks.
- Cloud computing – this offers new ways to deploy applications, experiment with new solutions, avoid significant upfront investment, rebalance IT budgets between fixed and variable costs.
- Semantic web – provies solutions for working with the masses of unstructured data available on the web and methods for companies to make their content more useable e.g. media companies. The linked open data movement has also become a global movement.
- Mobile computing has taken off with the availability of smartphones, tablets and other devices. Web presences and business applications need to be designed for accessibility from mobile devices. Businesses are looking to leverage development in telecoms and mobile devices to provide relevant, timely information on location – be that office, home, vacation or, say, a construction site.
I have been through a number of startup ventures myself. I have worked with entrepreneurs in securing seed capital and/or first round funding – in preparation of business plans, pitches to potential investors, etc. I have practical experience of the transition between a startup being managed by the founder and the next phase, as professional management assumes day to day responsibility for operations of the company. I have seen the emergence of lean VC . Advances in based technology development platforms and availability of scalable cloud based platforms have radically altered the landscape for web based startups.