Worried that new technology is out of reach? Here’s how to find a way forward.
I was a self-proclaimed luddite until I realised that fear of the unknown can be overcome by cutting the undergrowth and revealing a clear path ahead. Through this approach I have helped myself and clients to embrace, rather than resist the adoption of new technology.
Understanding the Challenge
Medium sized companies i find themselves in a digital bind. Awareness of the need to upgrade IT, advances in digital technology and risks to cyber security are growing, whilst the time available to secure the best solutions is limited by the myriad of more pressing business needs. This is all compounded by stories of hacking, ransomware and dwindling broadband speeds which create anxiety and force many into hasty decisions.
The personal use of innovative technology is not always matched by the practice and application of digital solutions in the workplace. At Empiric Partners (EP), we are no longer surprised when discovering analogue telephones, paper filing systems and administrative procedures (widely employed during the last century), in otherwise modern and dynamic organisations.
Finding the Right Route to Modernisation
Those reluctant to modernise should not be seen as luddites or willingly stuck in the past. It is a daunting prospect to spend hard won revenue or public money on kit which is not essential to the operation. Finding solutions seems overwhelmingly complex. This is not to mention the (wasted?) time spent researching options and hardware solutions for the modern workplace. It is easier for organisations and businesses that have procurement departments: these teams are capable of selecting a supplier from those in the market, providing much needed IT support and advice.
Without such internal procurement, the process of appraising the options is much more challenging.
Technology and digital systems must accommodate new working practices adopted by both public and private sectors, before and since the Covid Pandemic. Working from home, cyber security risks and the need to improve the interface between systems have combined to generate a challenging “puzzle” when seeking to update infrastructure and technology. EP have learned useful lessons over the last 5 years while growing our own business. We now apply our learnings to assist others to procure the right technology and service for each unique IT task and application.
Here’s what we have learnt:
Lesson 1, Keep it simple. Hardware and software suppliers frequently but unintentionally over specify and complicate the task which technology is designed to address.
Lesson 2, Define the objectives of replacement or an upgrade. Technology (and software) is all too often a wonderful solution desperately searching for a problem to resolve. Many of us will have electronic gadgets at home in the back of cupboards, having never found a suitable use. Technology in the workplace can easily fall into the same trap. Specification is a critical prelude to the successful delivery of an effective IT strategy.
Lesson 3, Engage with colleagues. The demands placed on any workplace IT system will vary according to the requirements of individual staff. Check that needs will be met through upgrading or new systems. How fast, what interfaces are needed, what level of cyber security is required, all examples of matters to resolve.
Lesson 4, High Street suppliers of domestic technology are not always right for business. System compatibility, whole life costs, service support are just examples of the issues on which clarity and certainty are required in securing IT and its efficient operation in the workplace.
In conclusion, Plan, Specify, Compare, Evaluate, and Secure neatly describes the process which EP believes will ensure the shiny new laptop and IT infrastructure handed to a colleague, is fit for purpose, affordable and secure.
Tony Cross is Managing Partner at Empiric Partners, a business consultancy that guides clients through whatever challenges they are facing, to drive business growth, operational improvement, market expansion and cultural change. To find out more, visit www.empiricpartners.com or message Tony directly for a chat.