by Dave Smith

Shift your focus from technology acquisition to real solutions and outcomes

Oct 01, 2019
IT StrategyTechnology Industry

Enterprise buyers don't just want technology...they're looking for business solutions.

A key as a bridge, bridging a gap.
Credit: Dmitrii Guzhanin / Getty Images

Approach technology decisions from the standpoint of what solution you are trying to bring to bear upon a particular business problem. The solution is the approach to each business issue.  The approach may involve multiple specific technology products, but the solution mindset sets forth how those technology products should be integrated to provide the answer to solve the business issue. Whether the business issue is improving recruiting, enhancing the customer experience or workplace safety, remove yourself from looking at specific products in silos, to what the entirety of the solution would entail.

Have a business solution mindset

This business solution mindset has been the core thrust of my digital workplace research and coverage. The repetition of this sentiment will be evident in most things I write and what you will hear me present in public speaking engagements. Oftentimes as business planners we get bogged down in the mire of looking at specific products to fix immediate needs without considering the overall impact of that investment on the whole.

In today’s workplace environment, speed and flexibility is paramount to deal with a fast-changing business climate. However, it is imperative to have a working, living and breathing reference architecture that outlines each business domain, the processes and technologies that support them and keep things running. That architecture will outline the internal and external stakeholders (the actual people) who are involved in the specific business processes as well. 

While we usually think of boring, overly technical types of architectures, what I’m proposing here is a graphical representation of the interaction of technology on specific business processes and people. As the cloud has democratized access to technology for individuals and departments in an organization, it also adds data and security risks from a policy perspective. A reference is needed that clearly shows the integration of all technologies from communications and collaboration to content services and lines of business applications. 

Each technology represents an integral part of a business workflow and process.  Specific care must be given to an API and overall integration strategy. The basis for this strategy will be to ensure the work that people do is fully supported by a seamless technology architecture that is not causing friction and thereby negatively impacting the business. The reference architecture serves as a way for business planners and decision makers to make the right technology investments to benefit people and the business as a whole.

Focus on how people work

The imperative is on looking at technology investments from the business process and how people actually work together perspective. That view results in a more strategic approach that makes room for both the tactical and the immediate.  You have to be able to move at the speed of need in order to make quick turns, but also have the full map that takes into account the experience of the people, whether they be customers, employees or partners. Listen, we all know that “shift happens.” However, the ability to be flexible and make adjustments on the fly goes to the prepared. 

Technology therefore has to come down into the flow of how people actually work. It has to be in flow and not above flow. The processes that people are involved in need to be supported by  the technology they use on a daily basis. Any friction will yield negative business outcomes.

With regards to how people work, modern day productivity, collaboration and business application environments are now the home base for people doing their daily jobs. Seamless integration turns these environments into the “operating system for the business.” A clear example of this trend is the Zoho One platform of 40+ apps that not only work together seamlessly but provide integrations into other provider applications. Other providers such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Slack have been focusing as well on ecosystem integrations into various business applications such as from Salesforce and Oracle.

Solutions, not just technology

The bottom line is that enterprise buyers are looking for business solutions, not just purchasing technology. This is what I’m hearing as I speak to business decision-makers. Keep in mind that what makes a technology platform a “solution” is that its focus is on the underlying business process through its full lifecycle. The digital workplace is centered on and made up of people and their experiences. Full solutions are required to enable better experiences for customers and employees. When engaging with technology providers, center investments around critical business solutions that directly support the work people do across all lines of business.