7 Ways to Simplify Your Technology Decisions

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Two inspirations for my writing topics are workshops and webinars for business leaders-- not because I want to copy their content or ideas. Instead I gain insight from these three questions.

1. How effectively are these folks delivering the information their audience was promised?

2. How much of what they're delivering is valuable, actionable information, and how much is a shameless sales pitch?

3. What questions are the attendees asking?

It's number 3 that grabbed my attention last week.

A Presenter Wanders Into the Weeds

I watched the active chat among more than 300 workshop attendees eager to grow their businesses. The presenter began with the usual you-can-do-this encouragement. But all too quickly she launched into a technology platform deep dive.

What started as useful knowledge was upstaged by a shameless pitch for her technology platform. Without adopting this miracle tools, the attendees were told, they simply could not be successful.

As the pitch dragged on, it was clear the attendees expected, wanted, and needed something very different.

Attendees were struggling to create context between what they were hearing and what they knew about technology. Phrases like websites, domains, software integration, and merchant services meant something different to each attendee. Many people were lost.

Comments such as "but how do I find clients" and "do I need a business license" began popping up in the chat. Technology wasn't the solution attendees were ready for yet. They wanted practical business help.

I gave them a big thumbs up for being brave enough to ask their questions. Unfortunately, the presenter missed a valuable opportunity to stop, listen, and build trust.

And this is where technology and sound business strategy get complicated. I'm all for putting the right technology to work. The problem happens when technology is seen as a quick replacement for a thoughtful plan.

7 Ways to Put Technology in Its Proper Place

  • Technology is a tool. It only does the work you tell it to do. Buying technology without a plan is like buying a hammer and waiting for the house to appear.

  • Making a technology buying decision is often too easy. This is especially true when it's a small one-time or recurring expense.
    We have all justified these purchases with "It's not that expensive. If it doesn't do what we need, we haven't wasted much money." Don't fall into that trap.
    Not only have you invested your time, only to decide it's not the solution you need, but you still haven't solved the problem.

  • Be crystal clear about the problem you are solving before you even begin your technology search. Put the problem in writing. It's amazing how laser-focused your attention becomes when you have a written problem statement in front of you.

  • Realize that adding one more piece of technology will impact people, processes, and other technologies. It's like adding one more employee to your team.

  • Ask yourself "Who in my company has the dedicated time and expertise to lead this product search?" All too often this project is handed to an employee – or worse, the company leader -- who has her regular activities to handle. We all know how productive that becomes.

  • Recognize that researching, evaluating, implementing, adopting, and supporting even a simple new tool all take far more time than expected. Start with a written plan with a timeline. Then follow the plan.

  • Commit to a long-term technology plan that aligns your buying decisions with strategic milestones. Eliminate wasteful buy-it-as-you-need-it thinking.

  • Tags: Technology Strategy

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    Linda Rolf is a lifelong curious learner who believes a knowledge-first approach builds valuable client relationships. She is fueled by discovering the unexpected connections among technology, data, information, people and process. For more than four decades, Linda and Quest Technology Group have been their clients' trusted advisor and strategic partner.

    Linda believes that lasting value and trust are created through continuously listening, sharing knowledge freely, and delivering more than their clients even know they need. As the CIO of their first startup client said, "The value that Quest brings to Cotton States is far greater than the software they develop."

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