In any company with more than two employees, computers and technology systems play a vital role. In the modern world, all aspects of business are becoming more and more data-driven, virtually stored and persistently available on a global scale. Information systems are critical to the day-to-day operation of any business, and in many instances, these systems are so ubiquitous that they are invisible to both employees and management. No one wonders how the company-wide email system works until it doesn’t; no one asks where the files for the website are stored until the business’s internet presence disappears.
It’s easy to think of IT as a group that works out of the basement, and no one goes down there unless they’ve lost a bet among their peers. Moreover, no one in IT likes to have to explain to non-IT employees the difference between a router, a switch and a hub. However, a business that fails to have technology and management working together is bound to underperform.
Who Has Your Data?
Most successful companies make decisions based on the data they collect. Since companies are digitizing and storing all data electronically (locally, in the cloud or on a server farm), the ability to access, retrieve, utilize, preserve and protect that data falls under the broad definition of IT — information technology — and IS — information systems. A top concern for companies is maintaining privacy in order to avoid losing customer trust, experiencing product theft or dealing with expensive litigation. As technology becomes more and more complex, business management must learn how to navigate the often-complicated relationship that involves technology and management working together. It isn’t just within your internal data structures where you’ll find a variety of information systems; as businesses become more active on a global scale, the interaction between IT and marketing becomes more and more vital to the success of the company.
A company’s leaders should understand the structure and mechanics of a business’s IS strategy. Where the business’s data is stored, how it is stored in that location and the costs associated with access and retrieval of that data all impact the business. While many managers may dismiss the technical jargon they see in IT presentations, the critical availability of data — as well as the ability to utilize that data readily — are critical to the day-to-day operations of a business. If it takes you six weeks to deliver a product to a market, you don’t want to have to wait six months to mine results from that market’s customer data.
Back to Front
While IT has traditionally been a “back office” aspect of a business, recent data mining technologies have allowed IT and marketing to more readily derive real-time data results from queries into the available customer data. If you know what your customers want almost as immediately as they do, you can more readily deliver products in a timely fashion. With technology and management working together, an agile business can improve the transaction time with each customer, as well as ensuring informed persistence in future communications with these customers.
Fields, Not Silos
According to CMS Wire, the “benefits of cross-functional collaboration cannot be overstated. When teams work together, they achieve higher margins and greater levels of customer loyalty than organizations that don’t work together as well.” In the past, information services and information technology were distinct “silos” within an organization. However, as companies grow, the need to share data across divisions and within projects becomes more important than these individual protectorates. Why would you want to store a single customer’s information across three different divisions of your company? Why not store it in one place — one central field of data — and, with a proactive relationship involving technology and management working together, your business will be more efficient: better able to build products, adapt the pipeline of available products and change various marketing strategies as the marketplace and your customers’ needs change. That’s where success lies. Not in wondering where the punch cards for the antiquated HR system have been stored this week.
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