Small and medium businesses face challenges with evaluating, implementing and supporting the technologies required by their growing companies. They often turn to an IT partner to address these challenges. Just like an author tells a story, so should an IT partner translate technology into business value. However, many partners try to sell a solution composed of features and presumed benefits without really understanding the needs and culture of the business prospect.
I see this issue at every level, whether it’s network/server administration or application development. Over the years, I’ve developed an analogy to explain the disconnect.
All of us have learned to read and write, to one degree or another. However, this doesn’t mean we can write exceptional novels or short stories. The skills required in writing novels, short stories and technical documents are over and above the writing skills many of us possess. Simply put, while command of language and writing is a prerequisite for being an author, it doesn’t make you an author. The addition of talent and storytelling skills make you an author.
This is exactly the problem business owners and operators encounter in dealing with technologists. They need someone who can understand their business needs and translate those needs into the mix of required technologies. Just because someone specializes in technology, doesn’t mean they can translate it into terms that a business owner understands.
It requires a discovery process to uncover the business pains and areas where technology can make a difference in efficiency, workflow and process. Someone has to bridge the communication gap between that which exists in the world-view of the business operator and the minutely detailed, technical world of the technologist.
I’ve found that technical people who grasp this difference are better able to adapt to the needs of the business and develop the ability to communicate more effectively. Those who don’t grasp or engage with this difference seem to continue to struggle with delivering the results the business needs. It’s almost as though in developing tools such as EXCEL, WORD, ERP and the Internet, we’ve lost the ability to understand what the business needed those tools to do.