IOUG Insight: Technology Versus Actual Solutions

Often, when working with technical people, they get excited over the latest and greatest piece of software or hardware. They try and get their management excited, but it seems as if their management just doesn’t “get” how good it is.

The technologist can see the possibilities to speed up the system, save money, or improve things for the end user. Why wouldn’t management want to do that? It’s not that management doesn’t want improvement, but it may not understand the lingo or can’t quantify what the actual savings or improvement will be to the business.

The people on the business side might even be able to understand the improvement if they are close enough to the technology, but they aren’t usually the ones approving the spending commitment. With so many options such as managed services, IaaS/PaaS/SaaS, data centers, hosted data centers, and cloud providers, it is more important than ever to understand the world that the business lives in and how to improve it.

Here’s an example of such a conversation:

“We could get a bigger server with double the memory for just a few dollars more.”“OK, what does that mean to me?”

“That means we wouldn’t have to go to disk as often.”

“OK.” (The approver’s eyes are glazing over.)

“That means your SQL could run faster.”

“OK.” (The person now thinks you are making up words such as SQL.)

“That means that XYZ process could finish in 5 minutes versus 10 minutes.”

“OK … well we wasted more than the time you saved in this conversation.”

“XYZ process runs 300 times during the close cycle.”

“OK.” (Wheels are turning because you said close cycle and the person knows what that is.)

“We could shave a full day off the close cycle.”

“Holy cow! Why didn’t you say that? We have 15 people on that, and this could mean tens of thousands of dollars in savings and could have a dramatic
impact on the business.”

Hopefully, the person made it all the way through the conversation without saying no. With the example above, a very solid case could have
been made to the people on the business side by just saying, “If you invest $1,000 we can shave a full day off the close cycle.” Statements such as that one grab the attention of people outside of IT and allow them to quickly quantify whether that investment is worthwhile to them or not. As a technologist, you need to put on your business hat and help people understand what to invest in—and what not to—in their terms.

In the world of SaaS, this becomes even more important. People on the business side can now put on an IT hat and purchase solutions without your help. These SaaS providers, if they are smart, are selling solutions to the business in their terminology and making it so simple, they don’t need IT. This means
that they might not even come talk to you until after the sale, or worse yet, once there is an issue.

To avoid this, you should be engaging with the business about what the challenges are—and not just IT challenges. When you look at this brave new world, it’s less about you running a backup or building a server—and more about engaging with the business and helping to provide what is needed