Stuck in the ‘90s? | Add IT to your Company’s New Year’s Resolutions
Ah, the ‘90s … a time when grunge, hip hop, and the World Wide Web rocked our world. The internet changed everything with its public introduction in 1993, followed closely by widespread email adoption in the mid-90s. It was truly a revolutionary time with breakthroughs in technology that have irrevocably impacted our personal and professional lives.
Powerful business automation software spurred improvements in our work lives, giving us sweet relief from tedious tasks and drudgery. Email dramatically sped up communications and untethered us from fax machines. Tools like MS Word/Excel/Access, relational databases, and SQL helped free us from laborious tasks and reams of paperwork.
In addition to improved working conditions, businesses saw competitive advantages as automation tools created efficiencies. New technology allowed them to react faster to changing market conditions, and improve workflow processes, customer response times, and so on. These changes were so profound that it’s hard to even imagine life and work before them; for those born in the ‘90s or later, it must be truly incomprehensible.
That was (gasp) 30 years ago?!
Time has a strange way of creeping up on you. 30 years or so have passed and yet, peek behind the curtain of many businesses today that grew up during that time and you’ll see employees still banging away on systems that are 10, 20, and even 30 years old. What was once transformative has grown outdated. Inflexible software, decentralized data, and siloed processes are shockingly inefficient compared to modern solutions.
The adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” unfortunately is too often the fallback position of executives when it comes to their aging IT infrastructure. While it may have a ring of old-timey truthiness, it’s a very risky sentiment when it comes to IT. Thousands of companies are still stuck in the 1990s or coping with stagnating IT infrastructure born out of that era.
The status quo will only serve so long before the high-speed, technologically driven world of today leaves you behind, or in a constant game of catch-up. Upstart companies with young talent, drive, and modern technology are achieving new levels of efficiency and reach. Competition is nipping at your heels.
While it can be difficult to make foundational IT changes, it really ought to be right up there at the top of your company’s New Year Resolutions. Like most resolutions, it isn’t easy. Demands pull you in multiple directions … maintaining legacy systems, managing servers, meetings, employee resources, customer demands, and so on. However, it can be perilous to put off key technology upgrades, year after year. The systems that underpin your operations are vital to the company’s health and growth.
The new year is the perfect opportunity to take stock and begin planning your IT roadmap. If this resonates with you, then consider taking this time to seize the initiative to begin a top-down review of your current automation processes. The first step should be to engage a professional business analyst and experienced development team that specializes in business workflow management systems, who can guide you and your team through the process.
Time & Technology Marches On…
As time marches relentlessly forward, so does technology. We’ve seen huge “tech-tonic” shifts. Perhaps the two most impactful are the massive adoption of cloud computing and the rapid evolution of powerful mobile devices. These technological leaps are simply game-changing and cannot be ignored.
In short, cloud computing is on-demand internet computing. Cloud computing has commoditized data processing and storage to such a degree that maintaining on-premise hardware is becoming increasingly hard to justify. The cloud has truly become an essential part of most modern workplaces. Cloud computing allows businesses to keep data and files on remote databases and retrieve them whenever they’re needed. The cloud enables remote data storage, databases, software, and servers.
The cloud simply makes good financial sense. It lowers IT costs significantly by removing the maintenance required by traditional office equipment. Your IT team will be happy to focus more on the delivery of IT rather than troubleshooting daily issues.
All of this innovation brings great opportunities as well as great confusion. How is it that some companies run like well-oiled machines, while others flounder in inefficiencies and workflow bottlenecks? It comes down to making a top-down commitment to investing in IT and a ground-up approach to doing it the right way. While growing pains around technology are normal, businesses must evolve their processes to remain both resilient and competitive.
The Frankenstein Effect
In more recent times, an explosion of 3rd party tools and services (from APIs to web services to plugins) has helped businesses address specific bottlenecks, from automated email marketing, to form generation, shipping, data feeds, analytics, and so on. Companies often end up with a hodge-podge of systems, taking the easier short-term band-aid approach; tackling immediate needs for the sake of expediency. Over time, however, these will become unwieldy and untenable.
Disparate systems often don’t work and play well together; one hand (or department) doesn’t know what the other is doing and over time, data becomes increasingly decentralized and fragmented into multiple databases – some of which you may not even have control of or direct access to. Any attempt at integration or data consolidation becomes either a pipe dream … or a nightmare.
This is the Frankenstein Effect. A disjointed monster that has grown into something you can no longer understand or control. It’s a very common problem that often leaves companies in a tough spot, as they wake to the realization of the severe limitations imposed by disparate systems, on top of the ongoing licensing costs.
This data fragmentation is often overlooked for short-term gains until management realizes that all of these tools are preventing them from being able to effectively assess and analyze the health of their business, using business intelligence and data-driven decision support tools – which rely on well-structured, consolidated, and aggregated data.
In practice, the optimal solution is to replace these separate in-house and 3rd party tools and workarounds with a unified custom solution. This process involves shifting the focus from siloed departments, groups, and servers, into a multi-departmental, holistic approach to the organization and its business processes.
A seasoned business analyst will map out your key data/process flows, identify bottlenecks, and pain points across the organization, and present solutions. As objective outside observers, they can also help to align the goals of upper management with departmental stakeholders and the day-to-day needs of key users into a shared vision. The result is an internal product roadmap that everyone can agree on.
By unifying your business processes into an integrated platform, data will seamlessly flow throughout the organization, in an easy-to-manage environment – that ultimately reduces costs, increases productivity, and provides data visibility across the company. Done properly, your entire organization will realize a better work/life balance.
IT Culture is Key to Work/Life Balance
If your IT culture is stuck in the 90s or your systems and processes have become painfully inefficient, you will also struggle to attract and retain new talent. The younger generations are technology-savvy, highly driven, and will add vitality and energy to your company. Providing a positive work/life balance is critical in today’s culture and employee expectations around work. Younger workers look upon a landscape of job opportunities, options, and perks like never before. If your processes and culture are stuck in the past, it can create a barrier to entry to finding new talent. So, consider a New Year’s Resolution that will stick – and benefit your business for years to come.
We Can Help
Saritasa has deep experience helping companies build custom software solutions. We’ve seen it all … the good, the bad, and the ugly! Through a process of business analysis, collaborative planning, and agile development, we develop unique workflow management solutions to address our client’s aging IT infrastructure, modernizing your processes and helping you grow into a brighter, more balanced future. Together, we can help make it a Happy New Year!
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