Balancing IT Complexity and the Technology Benefits

Frustration with IT Solutions

Photo Courtesy of Kay Kim

I recently read an article by Don Williams on the IT Complexity Paradox and its impact on small business owners. The gist of it is that the rising complexity of and reliance on software and hardware for most businesses has created complexities that many business owners are not prepared for.

Before you invest in new IT solutions, ensure that you understand why you are investing. It is all too easy to invest in a sexy new solution that looks great only to realize later that it adds no value to your business, or worse yet it ends up costing you money.  Business owners end up spending more time managing their new solutions and now can’t manage their business, produce new products or sell more. Don’t start with the solution.  Start with the problem.  What are you trying to do with this solution?  Does it make your employees or your business more productive? Does it create new revenue channels or make processes available that you couldn’t do before?  Like any other investment decision, what is the impact to your bottom line?

Modern solutions are often very complex with great features…or great looking features. Many of them solve problems in amazing ways. But before you sign, understand why you are buying them and what it means to what you’re trying to achieve. It’s very easy with some of the complexity of some of these solutions to underestimate the upkeep required or the ongoing investment or the support costs. Most business owners are experts in their areas of business  and not technical areas. Don’t become dazzled or overwhelmed. Follow my decision making model and make sure that you have considered why you are doing this and what it means long term.

If it isn’t good for your business then don’t invest. If you don’t understand it, then don’t invest. No one knows your business and your needs like you do. It’s an amazing time to be a small business owner. Opportunities abound to help open doors for small businesses and make opportunities and processes available that were once only available to big businesses. With such awesome opportunities also come risks. Make sure you have evaluated these as well.

The complexities of today’s IT solutions can be daunting for small businesses.  Start with the basics – know your problem.  Evaluate if you are fixing that problem and what new challenges you are creating.  If you can’t define those, then you probably shouldn’t be considering that solution.

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