Let me tell you a sure-fire way to make sure your company's technology fails to deliver.
Don't have a conversation with your technology provider about where you see your company in the next year, next 2 years... what your business goals are or what your plans are for growth (or scale-back). Don't discuss business initiatives, or how you might use technology to streamline, enhance or automate those initiatives. Don't discuss your marketing or sales strategies, don't discuss your business workflow, don't discuss business risks, don't discuss business continuity strategies, and don't discuss private data you have that could leave you open to regulatory issues if it were stolen.
In other words - don't align your technology with your business strategy.
How does this lead to failure? Let me count the ways:
• You won't be taking advantage of the competitive advantage that technology can provide. The technology landscape is constantly changing. Your IT provider should be aware of these changes, and able to help you use technology to its best advantage; they should be able to think ahead and give you ideas where your technology should be able to give even more value. For instance, we had a manufacturing client that was collecting quality data post-production. As we planned some of their systems, we made sure that the data collection systems we installed could support streaming data from their production systems. This meant that when they were ready, they could take advantage of in-line quality data collection - and tie this into production systems to ensure quality problems were addressed as the product was being made.
• You won't be taking advantage of expert knowledge. If you go to the doctor, and don't tell her that your chest hurts and you are short of breath; you can hardly complain that she should have known of your impending heart attack. If your IT provider knows that you plan to expand marketing, they can make recommendations or work with you to make sure that you have systems to help take those expensive marketing leads and turn them into hard sales.
• You won't be aware of the risks you are taking. For instance, we had one client who had no idea that the files they were receiving from a vendor had extremely sensitive healthcare information, and that this data was very poorly protected. They had inadvertently opened themselves up to massive financial and business relationship risks that they were completely unaware of.
• Your plumbing will be inadequate, and more expensive. If your IT provider knows what is coming, they can help you right-size your hardware or cloud systems. They can plan for expansion, or be aware that they don't need to worry about adding new employees for the next 10 months. That way you don't overspend or find yourself surprised by an overly-expensive unbudgeted expansion that could have been factored into the environment. For instance, we understood from one client that they would be opening their new shared chip modeling software environment up to future clients as a service. As a result, we were able to right-size their storage ahead of time, rather than needing to add much more expensive and disruptive expansion space later.
Making sure your technology and your technology company is onboard with your vision of your Company's future is critical. So, if your technology company isn't actively asking these kinds of questions, you may be working with the wrong company.