Building a Digital Company: When IT Is Too Late

Clint Oram, CTO & Co-Founder, SugarCRM | 2/20/2013 | 13 comments

Clint Oram
Most companies think of bringing in technology at exactly the wrong time. Whether you are starting a company from scratch, adding a product or offering to your business, or just automating an existing business process, at some point or another, technology will come into play.

You'll look to add capabilities to make it easier or faster or cheaper. Chances are you've got the vision, and all you need to do is execute it with the right people and solutions, right?

The problem is that translating a vision into a real business comes with its own challenges. It sounds like a simple recipe at a high level. Step 1: Define your goals and objectives. Step 2: Hire the right people to make it all happen. Step 3: Align those people around simple, yet effective processes to get the job done. Now for the secret sauce: Add in a dash of the right technology at the right point to accelerate the pace.

Voila! Instant success! Yeah, right.

Here is the fatal flaw. I talked about adding in technology last -- after you have built your strategy, teams, and processes. That’s what most companies do today. They graft on technology to manual processes in the hope that technology will help them accelerate a specific process, like distributing leads from marketing to salespeople or sending out invoices to customers. But putting roller skates on your dog in order to speed up the nightly walks won’t necessarily work out the way you might have hoped.

A few months back, Capgemini and MIT released a report called "The Digital Advantage: How digital leaders outperform their peers in every industry" that describes how successful companies today are putting digital technology, from software to smartphones, at the beginning of their business planning, rather than at the end. These companies recognize the power of digital technology in solving old, complex problems in new, simple ways.

By building strategies and processes from the ground up around digital technology, companies will outperform those that don’t.

This is where IT typically fails for a company. What happens too often is that a company that wasn’t built around a digital mindset gets stuck on the change management problem. People are creatures of habit. They are adverse to change. How often have you heard, “But that’s not the way we’ve done it before!”?

Deploying technology to accelerate a process not designed for today’s modern, digital business is not necessarily the right idea. Designing a process that simplifies your employees’ lives and ignores today’s modern, digital customer is even worse.

For instance, should you deploy an invoicing solution that automatically puts invoices in the post? After all, stuffing envelopes is a pain for your finance department. Or should you instead set up a billing solution that allows your customers to set up automatic payment by credit card. Which is better?

Another example. Should you get your sales people to move their customer spreadsheets out of MS Excel up to Google Drive for easier sharing? Or should you deploy a CRM solution that allows your sales department, service department, and customers to collaborate on answering the customer’s questions together?

And this is when the IT department becomes so often the enemy in the business instead of the strategic accelerator that the CEO envisioned. Putting lipstick on a pig and automating old processes one step at a time can easily frustrate everybody, from your employees to your customers.

It’s time to rethink how you approach technology in your business. Your employees want it, your customers are demanding it.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
batye   Building a Digital Company: When IT Is Too Late   3/3/2013 9:25:23 PM
Re: building a digital company the right way
could not agree more... sometimes start-up's born and die almost on the same day... some Co. born by chance... most stable Co. get born out of the hobby as owners do what they love ... and it catch up...
Zaius   Building a Digital Company: When IT Is Too Late   2/22/2013 5:21:52 PM
Re: building a digital company the right way
There are tons of different ways a company can born. Some born after careful consdierations and deliberttions, and some are just born in a month. This way the preparation varies. And, the initial stages suffers from tight budget, so they tend to cut on manpower and infrastructure. IT is the one which gets neglected more often.
singlemud   Building a Digital Company: When IT Is Too Late   2/21/2013 10:19:41 PM
Re: Transitioning
Agree, people do not want to change once they are accustomed to one system, so the IT system should be there in the first place
kstaron   Building a Digital Company: When IT Is Too Late   2/21/2013 11:24:50 AM
Transitioning
IT managers have a lot to overcome in getting people ready for "new" technology. Especially when no one planned on it to begin with. If they can answer how does this help the company, the employees, and the customers, though, they they have always done it, will eventually become they way they used to do it.
SaneIT   Building a Digital Company: When IT Is Too Late   2/21/2013 8:50:11 AM
Re: building a digital company the right way
I also think that as technology becomes available you can start to reshape those processes as well.  Companies that won't budge on processes when the budget is freed up for the tech side are foolish to say the least.
Pubudu   Building a Digital Company: When IT Is Too Late   2/21/2013 1:19:41 AM
Re: building a digital company the right way
Yes Pedro.

We can use the technology to enhance the effectivity and efficiency of the predefine system by the human brain.
Pedro Gonzales   Building a Digital Company: When IT Is Too Late   2/21/2013 12:15:41 AM
building a digital company the right way
I agree that once you determine and establish clear process, the next step will be on how to use technology to either improve or enhance that process.   A digital company should use technology to work more efficiently with customers, whatever the end goal, there is probably a technology solution available
LuFu   Building a Digital Company: When IT Is Too Late   2/20/2013 5:27:04 PM
Re: a tricky mind meld
@Sara - I think it depends. Generally speaking, if the startup company is in tech, there's a good chance they are de facto digitally astute. In that case, hopefully they map out their business plan incorporating a technology backbone that allows them to expand and adapt as they grow.

Even so, thinking back to the halcyon days in the Internet explosion, many startups bought into Sun's tagline of "We put the dot in dot-com." and bought piles and piles of heavy duty servers to handle all the web traffic. Then the dot-com bubble burst and all of those servers that SUN leased or exchanged for futures to the dot-commers came back as an accounting nightmare. So, where is SUN today?
Sara Peters   Building a Digital Company: When IT Is Too Late   2/20/2013 5:19:12 PM
Re: fantastic imagery
@LuFu  Great point! Why didn't I think of that?! Have I learned nothing from Spuds McKenzie?!
LuFu   Building a Digital Company: When IT Is Too Late   2/20/2013 5:12:01 PM
Re: fantastic imagery
Sara - C'mon, everyone knows dogs are better at skateboarding.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>


The blogs and comments posted on EnterpriseEfficiency.com do not reflect the views of TechWeb, EnterpriseEfficiency.com, or its sponsors. EnterpriseEfficiency.com, TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from Clint Oram
Clint Oram   12/18/2012   29 comments
The shift from transactional selling to social selling has turned business people into something akin to therapists. Today's best sales people need to immerse themselves in their ...
Clint Oram   7/26/2012   7 comments
Social media is having a profound effect on all aspects of our lives, both personal and professional. It's also causing many smart business leaders to raise an eyebrow or two and wonder if ...
Latest Archived Broadcast
We talk with Bernard Golden about accelerating application delivery in the cloud.
On-demand Video with Chat
Register for this video discussion to learn how tablets can provide true business usability and productivity.
4/23/2014 - Dell Compellent performance and features make it an outstanding storage platform for SQL Server. Register for this webinar now.
E2 IT Migration Zones
IT Migration Zone - UK
Why PowerShell Is Important
Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI
Rethinking Storage Management
IT Migration Zone - FR
SQL Server : 240 To de mémoire flash pour votre data warehouse
Quand Office vient booster les revenus Cloud et Android de Microsoft
Windows Phone : Nokia veut davantage d'applications (et les utilisateurs aussi)
IT Migration Zone - DE
Cloud Computing: Warum Unternehmen trotz NSA auf die „private“ Wolke setzen sollten
Cloud Computing bleibt Wachstumsmarkt – Windows Azure ist Vorreiter
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Enterprise Efficiency Twitter Feed
Site Moderators Wanted
Enterprise Efficiency is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations with IT industry leaders; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
moderators@enterpriseefficiency.com
Dell's Efficiency Modeling Tool
The major problem facing the CIO is how to measure the effectiveness of the IT department. Learn how Dell’s Efficiency Modeling Tool gives the CIO two clear, powerful numbers: Efficiency Quotient and Impact Quotient. These numbers can be transforma¬tive not only to the department, but to the entire enterprise.

Read the full report
The State of Enterprise Efficiency in the Virtual Era: Virtualization – Smart Approaches to Maximize Gains
Virtualization is a presence in nearly all enterprise data centers. But not all companies are using it to its best effect. Learn the common characteristics of success, what barriers companies face, and how to get the most from your efforts.

Read the full report
Informed CIO: Dollars & Sense: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Cut through the VDI hype and get the full picture -- including ROI and the impact on your Data Center -- to make an informed decision about your virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

Read the full report
SPONSORED BY DELL
CASE STUDIES
EBOOKS
PUBLIC SECTOR RESOURCES
VIDEOS
WHITE PAPERS
WINDOWS SERVER 2012 RESOURCES
A Video Case Study – Translational Genomics Research Institute
e2 Video


On the Case
TGen IT: Where We're Going Next

7|11|12   |   08:12   |   10 comments


Now that TGen has broken new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions, the company discusses what will come next for it and for personalized medicine.
On the Case
Better Care Through Better Communications

6|6|12   |   02:24   |   12 comments


The achievements of the TGen/Dell project could improve how all people receive healthcare, because they are creating ways to improve end-to-end communication of medical data.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Are Now

5|15|12   |   06:58   |   5 comments


TGen is breaking new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Were

4|27|12   |   06:45   |   10 comments


The Translational Genomics Research Institute wanted to save lives, but its efforts were hobbled by immense computing challenges related to collecting, processing, sharing, and storing enormous amounts of data.
On the Case
1,200% Faster

4|18|12   |   02:27   |   12 comments


Through their partnership, Dell and TGen have increased the speed of TGen’s medical research by 1,200 percent.
On the Case
IT May Improve Children's Chances of Survival

4|17|12   |   02:12   |   8 comments


IT is helping medical researchers reach breakthroughs in a way and pace never seen before.
On the Case
Medical Advances in the Cloud

4|10|12   |   1:25   |   5 comments


TGen and Dell are pushing the boundaries of computing, and harnessing the power of the cloud to improve healthcare.
On the Case
TGen: Living the Mission

4|9|12   |   2:25   |   3 comments


TGen's CIO puts the organizational mission at the heart of everything the IT staff does.
On the Case
TGen Speeding Up Biomedical Research to Save More Lives

4|5|12   |   1:59   |   8 comments


The Translational Genomics Research Institute is revamping its computing to improve speed, storage, and collaboration – and, most importantly, to save lives.
On the Case
Computing Power Helping to Save Children's Lives

3|28|12   |   2:13   |   3 comments


The Translational Genomics Institute’s partnership with Dell is enabling them to treat kids with neuroblastoma more quickly and save more lives.
Tom Nolle
The Big Reason to Use Office

3|18|14   |   02:24   |   16 comments


Office and personal productivity tools come in a first-class and coach flavor set, but what makes the difference is primarily little things that most users won't encounter. What's the big issue in using something other than Office, and can you get around it?
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Mobile Security — A Use Case

3|4|14   |   04:27   |   6 comments


New mobile security solutions can accommodate a wide array of needs, including those of a complex university environment.
Tom Nolle
Killing Net Neutrality Might Save You Money

1|16|14   |   2:13   |   11 comments


The DC Court of Appeals voided most of the Neutrality Order, and whatever it might mean for the Internet overall, it might mean better and cheaper Internet VPNs for businesses.
Tom Nolle
The Internet of Everythinguseful

1|10|14   |   2:18   |   19 comments


We really don't want an "Internet of Everything" but even building an Internet of Everythinguseful means setting some ground rules to insure there's value in the process and that costs and risks are minimized.
Tom Nolle
Maturing Google Chrome

12|30|13   |   2.18   |   25 comments


Google's Chrome OS has a lot of potential value and a lot of recent press, but it still needs something to make it more than a thin client. It needs cloud integration, it needs extended APIs via web services, and it needs to suck it up and support a hard drive.
Sara Peters
No More Cookie-Cutter IT

12|23|13   |   03.58   |   21 comments


Creating the right combination of technology, people, and processes for your IT organization is a lot like baking Christmas cookies.
Sara Peters
Smart Wigs Not a Smart Idea

12|5|13   |   3:01   |   46 comments


Sony is seeking a patent for wigs that contain computing devices.
Tom Nolle
Cloud in the Wild

12|4|13   |   02:23   |   15 comments


On a recent African trip I saw examples of the value of the cloud in developing nations, for educational and community development programs. We could build on this, but not only in developing economies, because these same programs are often under-supported even in first-world countries.
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Is Malware Evading Your IPS?

11|18|13   |   03:16   |   4 comments


Intrusion prevention software is supposed to detect and block malware intrusions, but clever malware authors can evade your IPS in these five main ways.
Sara Peters
Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

9|27|13   |   3:15   |   38 comments


A good professional mentor can change your life for the better... but where do you find one?
Tom Nolle
SDN Wars & You Could Win

9|17|13   |   2:10   |   5 comments


VMware's debate with Cisco on SDN might finally create a fusion between an SDN view that's all about software and another that's all about network equipment. That would be good for every enterprise considering the cloud and SDN.
Ivan Schneider
The Future of the Smart Watch

9|12|13   |   3:19   |   39 comments


Wearing a bulky, oversized watch is good training for the next phase in wristwatches: the Internet-enabled, connected watch. Why the smartphone-tethered connected watch makes sense, plus Ivan demos an entirely new concept for the "smart watch."
Tom Nolle
Cutting Your Cloud Storage Costs

9|4|13   |   2:06   |   3 comments


Cloud storage costs are determined primarily by the rate at which files are changed and the possibility of concurrent access/update. If you can structure your storage use to optimize these factors you can cut costs, perhaps to zero.
Sara Peters
Do CIOs Need an IT Background?

8|29|13   |   2:11   |   23 comments


Most of the CIOs interviewed in the How to Become a CIO series did not start their careers as IT professionals. So is an IT background essential?
Ivan Schneider
The Internet Loves Birthdays

8|27|13   |   3:25   |   69 comments


The Internet has evolved into a machine for drumming up a chorus of "Happy Birthday" messages, from family, friends, friends of friends who you added on Facebook, random people that you circled on G+, and increasingly, automated bots. Enough already.