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Focusing on the Value of Technology

A question we often get is: What is the value provided by the technology organization? A very deceptively easy question for business executives as well as the technology leaders. I believe everyone understands that technology is a key component of any institution. Even with this understanding, the technology organizations are viewed as a necessary evil. The reason the question is difficult, is that it is not just the technology. It includes how the institution perceives the role of the technology organization.

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Underlying Factors

Technology organizations usually struggle with budget cuts or justifying necessary expenses. It is expensive to keep the technology for an institution successfully running. Within the technology organization, everyone is aware of all of the necessary activities on a daily basis. Most business users do not understand what it takes to manage the technology that supports them on a daily basis. Furthermore, the consumerism of technology has turned some business users into experts about technology’s ease of use.

Over the years, there has been growing support for including technology organizations at the table. I agree with the recommendation, but the challenge is how to make it happen. If the business users do not understand the value of the technology and the technology leaders are focused on the daily delivery of the technology, it is not clear how to start the process.

Take the Technology Out of the Equation

From my experience, I suggest approaching the conversation from the value standpoint as opposed to the technology itself. The technology itself does not provide the value. It is about how the technology is utilized and the governance processes for technology. Three constructive questions to start the discussion are:

  • How does the technology impact the institution’s strategy?
  • How effectively does the institution utilize the technology?
  • How are technology decisions made?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. The goal is to have a discussion and move from talking technology or budget to a discussion about the value of the technology. Often we see business leaders understand what technology teams have known for a long time, every day decisions are made outside of the technology organization that positively or negatively impact the delivery or use of the technology. Just like technology does not provide value by itself, the IT organization by itself cannot improve the value of the technology.

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