The area of information technology has a somewhat misleading history. When pioneer-geniuses began discovering all of the possible implementations of big computational machines in business and commerce, that type of technology was still considered close to science-fiction—something used by the secret departments of the government, for purposes unknown to the common folk.
Once the first personal computers started gaining traction, things all began to make sense. From the mid-seventies up until the new millennium, each and every adopter of computer technology went through a series of eureka moments: you can use computers for email; you can play games on the machines; it’s easier and more efficient to store data in neat Excel files rather than clumsy paper spreadsheets… and on and on. I.T. quickly started to seem like a natural part of life, an easily understandable one.
Fast forward 20 years, and there’s hardly a business operation that hasn’t been (or couldn’t be) made more efficient through I.T. Data storage and security? Sure. In-house and external communications? You got it. Business continuity and management? No problem!
For the business decision maker, this is good news. You do want to cut costs, identify and prevent disasters, and improve customer experience. But with all that technology comes a new issue: it is difficult to understand, and exponentially more difficult to manage. I.T. implementation. I.T. oversight is no longer a task you can simply throw on one of your managers’ desks, hoping they’ll cope with the extra task. It takes teams of trained professionals to run I.T. services today.
As is common due to human nature, not all business executives accept this fact. Some still believe that equipping your company with state-of-the-art I.T. solutions means setting up phone lines and installing Microsoft Office on your PCs. And the majority that do appreciate the complexity of the latest I.T. services severely overestimate their own ability to navigate the waters of technology. This leads to all sorts of management havoc: emails not working, projects overdue, technical issues on the customer side… leading to all sorts of hasty “put-out-the-fire” emergencies.
This article serves to remind those leaders of the depth and entanglement of modern I.T. solutions and to explain where this depth and entanglement comes from.
Competition Is Good for the End User, but It Can Make Things Confusing
Such is the paradox of highly competitive markets: while competition drives companies to try their best to outperform each other by creating better products, in some industries—such as I.T. —it can make things a little bit cloudy for a customer faced with a choice.
The thing is, when a market is defined by easy-to-understand and use products and services (shoes, cars, airline tickets), having a lot of options is good, since most buyers will be able to quickly and easily compare the products or services. However, when a complex product or service is introduced in a perfectly balanced competitive environment, it can be difficult for someone without training to choose a product. An amateur tennis player won’t know the difference between a $200 and $1,000 racket; a non-mechanic won’t know the difference between two brands of tires; a non-techie won’t know which one of the two seemingly-identical I.T. solutions is better for their company.
“Well, that’s what sales consultants are for,” you might say. True, a good sales consultant will simplify the information for you, and recommend an option that’s best for you. But the catch is that it is in the consultant’s best interest for you to buy the option they’ll make the most money from. Even the worst sales consultant would never tell you that you don’t need their products or services to achieve what you want to achieve.
In many cases, you can decide to be content with the self-interest driven sales consultancy. With tennis rackets or tires, you’re not risking all that much. If the tennis racket doesn’t fit your play style, you will not lose your job or your business. Nor will you if the tires aren’t as durable as advertised. When it comes I.T. solutions, however, the welfare of your business is at stake; the cost of a mistake is simply too high.
Alright, You Bought the Program. Now What?
It is an almost-offensive fallacy that I.T. decision making ends with the purchase of the hardware and software. In fact, that’s where decision making begins. The technology is just a tool; now it’s time to build the house.
This is usually where self-managed I.T. projects start stalling. The management has already bought the programs and the hardware, which makes backing out not an option. Ego problems start kicking in—if you bring in an outside I.T. consultant, they might say you didn’t need half of what you’ve purchased, and the other half is simply unreliable. All of this makes you look bad in front of upper management, so you keep quiet, hoping the mistake will slide by unnoticed.
Acting like nothing is wrong, management then proceeds to make I.T. management decisions. Do we buy the software or subscribe to the cloud version? Well… my son has Dropbox, and it’s working fine, so I think we should use the cloud. Alright, the other fifteen executives in the room nod along. How often do we perform backups? I think we should just do it every month. The room nods along. …You get the picture.
Of course, it’s not always the ignorance that’s employed when faced with I.T. management challenges by an untrained executive that causes trouble. Sometimes, people work really, really hard to understand the ins-and-outs of the solutions and how to run them. They read, ask, and then read some more, trying to ensure their company gets the best I.T. treatment possible.
However, that’s far from optimal, too. Industry professionals spend lifetimes learning narrow intricacies of the field. It is naive to believe that even a genius could come close in a couple of months. And even if they do, that’s a couple of months spent on something that’s not their main job—which is running and improving their company.
So What’s the Answer to Tech Decision Dilemmas?
Hiring an I.T. managed services provider, of course. (You had to know that the most obvious answer was the best one here!)
The fact is, I.T. consulting as an industry came into being precisely because so many businesses had a need for specialized knowledge and expertise. Over the decades, technology became so intertwined with every facet of business operations that it became absurd to think that any organization lacking an inexhaustible budget could attend to all their own I.T. needs in-house. There are simply too many decisions to make; too wide a variety of topics that need to be understood deeply; and too many processes to anticipate, plan, and implement.
I.T. has become too complex for any company to handle on their own. It may seem counterintuitive to think that the thing designed to make our businesses easier to run could be so difficult to manage, but it’s true. And it’s not that different from most things in life. An automobile makes it much easier (and quicker) to travel from place to place, but relatively few people have the knowledge to handle service, maintenance, and repairs on their own.
Don’t let your ego get the better of you. Hiring a professional I.T. company doesn’t just make things easier—it makes things more efficient. Experience may mean you can paint a masterpiece in two minutes, but few people recognize that you spent 20 years learning how to do to it.
JMARK has spent 30 years learning how to ensure that their clients are getting the most from their I.T. From efficiency-driving network solutions and mobile device management to impeccable security and backup solutions, to so much more, we have made it our mission to bring the best technology solutions to organizations that are looking to take their business to the next level.