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DISAPPOINTING TIMES

By FluxIt ·
Recently, I was speaking with two business owners who were complaining about the lack of quality in technology guys. Their biggest beef was that the tech guys only wanted to spend money and never could fix problems. They label techies (us) as spenders. They further went on complaining that it is easy to spend other peoples money.

As I talked to them I soon discovered they were running the entire business off of win98 and terminal emulators to a AS400. Thier architecture was at least 6 yrs old.

As I began to explain the Microsoft hardware applications layer, HAL, and its benefit to stablizing thier operations they would cut me short stating that they were confused and dazed only seeing I was spending more money.

It was once again plainfully apparent that business owners fall severely short of understanding technology. Moreover, technology guys bare the weight of this shortcoming as the owners simply let them go and seek the next guy who is filled with false hope of success.
In a world today that requires a higher degree of mental agility and stronger technical backgrounds the principals are far too slow to come around.

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Different skill set

by pshaw1 In reply to DISAPPOINTING TIMES

Different people have different skill sets. Yours happens to be technical. How good are you with P&L statements, or writing business plans, or approaching banks, or overseeing mergers and acquisitions, or tax accounting? Do you know what a PE ratio is? Do you actually know every step in actually manufacturing a widget? People have different strengths. What is really required here is an improvement in your communication skills. You need to work on learning to discuss things on the level that a non-technical executive understands. Instead of explaining all the technical benefits of new software, can you explain to them the cost benefit ratio, how it will impact the bottom line, how the hardware acquisition can be depreciated as a fixed asset, how the implementation of new software can provide them with a X% improvement in workflow and productivity? To get what you want from the people who hold the purse strings, you have to be able to speak their language, not expect them to speak yours. This is also, by the way, how you become the next CIO.

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Actually

by FluxIt In reply to Different skill set

I have a degree in Operations management and I have written Business plans, reviewed profit loss statements, and developed 3 business's over the last 20 years. I have been in technology 14 years. I am an APICS member for over 18 years and have worked in manufacturing Management as a production manager. I also spent 2 yrs in a CPA firm developing a practice. I have considered being a CIO and decided against it.

I have heard this communication skills argument too many times. Communications occurs in two directions. The point many people miss is you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. Something has to happen within the horse.

The point in my discussion was that you cannot leverage technology in a business without knowing something about technology. What makes technology different than driving a car or operating your garbage disposal is that technology mandates a higher degree of understanding and ability. Why is another posting.

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Speak in the Language of the Customer

by Wayne M. In reply to Actually

Communication is not about meeting in the middle. The speaker needs to go the extra distance to his listeners' level. This is what is meant by knowing your audience.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but in your original post I see "Windows98," "AS400," and other technical terms. What I do not see is any description of the business problems occurring on the system. You need to address the problems as the client sees them and propose what you intend to solve at what cost. Only if the cusotmerexpresses interest do you need to go to the details of how you will resolve his problems.

Do not blame the listener for failure to understand. His only responsibility is to be receptive to your message. It is your responsibility to go into his environment and express your ideas in his language.

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Spending

by pallan In reply to DISAPPOINTING TIMES

You failed to mention whether or not the AS/400 was providing them with the services they need. Perhaps you forgot that. The all-Microsoft solution you pitched them has incredibly poor ROI in a stable AS/400 operation.

You claim that they were dazed and confused by your pitch. As technically oriented people, we must have understanding of those who are not. A dazed and confused audience is, more often than not, the fault of the speaker. HAL offers no advantage here, it's just an MS acronym which adds to the confusion.

In a stable AS/400 shop, your solution *is* just "spending more money".

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i agree

by FluxIt In reply to Spending

I agree that thier architecture was not correct and thier complaint was that windows kept crashing with the blue screens. Why was that happening? Why can't a IT guy fix it?

The solution is to use more advanced versions of windows because of the advantage that the HAL provides if they want to use windows. How many staffs out there skilled at OS2 warp? Are the owners prepared to spend for hardware terminals? Any way you go we are back to the orginal issue.. the business owners simply are not adept at technology enough to adequately leverage it in business.

Too many people blame it on the IT guy when thier ability to make the right decisions are the real issue.

I'll will tell you that my original career path was manufacturing mgt but I realized early that I had to really understand technology to leverage in business. I have architected my career gaining more technology experience than accounting and operations. It has paid off well. I believe that every business man out there really needs to learn all three to various degrees in order to be effective. Answer this: does a carpenter only join wood or is he also skilled in art and mathematics?

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Easy fix & does need $

by Al Macintyre In reply to i agree

The problem with Win crashing on 400 is usually nothing to do with the 400 or Microsoft, it has to do with growth in user needs without growth in user resources.

Having a PC talking to the 400 requires a certain modicum of memory & processor speed, depending on the methodology of connection. Then depending on what software you using, there is another increase in memory needed. This is well documented in teh 400 literature, but businesses often have sticker shock & try to cut corners on supplying their work force with the resources to do the job.

Then the person job responsibilities grow. They need more disk space, memory, performance to do their job right.

I like to use the analogy of a file cabinet when explaining this to people. We get a file drawer & I show them me stuffing more paperrs in than will fit & I say I can keep stuffing in so long as my muscles can hold out, then I grab a paper to pull it out & it rips, because I had deliberately put too much in.

"This isyour data!" I exclaim, holding the shredded paper out to them & that is your storage facility, pointing at the file drawer that I had crammed in stuff too tight. As your business grows, you need larger storage for your data & if you do not get it, your data is going to be trashed.

There are other analogies. It is a communications problem. We have to try to figure out why the data is not getting into their heads, then present it in a form that they will comprehend.

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WHAT COLOR IS YOUR LIGHT

by FluxIt In reply to DISAPPOINTING TIMES

One thing that quickly becomes apparent even in these brief postings is different people can have very different perceptions and even focus on other points than the one being presented. Is this really the presenter's fault?

I have noted over the years that we tend to blame the ourselves for perceived failures than realizing there are other colors out there adding to the mix. Sometimes those colors are bright and sometimes not so bright.

Nonetheless, the most effective business people have a crisp mind understanding the elements going into the business and they are able to leverage those elements keenly. These people are focused and visionary.

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Do Business and Tech Mix?

by Packratt In reply to DISAPPOINTING TIMES

Well, I sorta discussed my theory on this under a different topic in a different way, but it applies here as well...

All things in life boil down to this...
Is what you want worth what you pay to get it?

This business wants to use technology,but it complains when technology is not cheap, thus they do not value technology enough to use it. It is that simple, no other excuse is needed here. No argument of ROI or cost to earning ratios will change their minds that IT is just too expensive for them, they don't need it.

If I see a car I want, but decide I can't afford it, I won't buy it. If I see a car that I NEED, and can't afford it, I will find a way to buy it. That's why there are so many misunderstandings between IT staffs and management/executive staffs. Many companies see IT as a cost center, not as something they need to compete. Thus IT is frowned upon and usually given the short end of the budget in equipment and compensation. (thus all that job hopping that goes on).
To sell the technology, you have to show them why they NEED it, they already know why they WANT it. (and if they needed it they would either try to understand it or hire someone that did)

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EMOTION vs RATIONALE

by FluxIt In reply to Do Business and Tech Mix?

Buying a car is an emotional thing more than a 'need'. Cars give people an image and a sense of worth. Look at me I am sporty, rich, or elegant. A car is an extension of a person's self.

Technology in the workplace is not suppose to be an emotional event. Although I have experienced heighten emotions over it.

Technology is a tool. Like a carpenter has a set of tools that he skillfully applies in his work, business people must also apply the tools of technology to thier work. They must know how to sharpen and hone the computer and software to ORGANIZE information in meaningful ways. Just like a carpenter blends grains and gracefully bends wood for a comfortable and useful chair, business people must form information relationships that benefit the business.

Where we are failing is not in communicating or properly solving technology issues, where all of us are failing is to apply technology keenly to a business need and then hone our skills with it.

Business people not only need to know how to open that attachment in thier email when they do not have the drivers loaded but they also need to know how to use the technology to organize and present information pertinent to the business. Again, this is where we fail.

How many people call the IT guy for email attachments instead of clicking on online support functions and update the drivers relatively quickly over the internet? How many IT guys set that up and train the users for that? What does a carpenter do whenhis plane dulls?

I suppose the IT guys would never consider a user downloading driver updates and users would never consider solving thier own problems. Business owners are no different. Afterall they have a technology guy they don't need to know anything!

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Perhaps

by Packratt In reply to EMOTION vs RATIONALE

Yes, buying a car does involve emotional responses, yet I would disagree that it isn't a "need". I live in Ohio and most places that I would be employed at or most clients of my side consulting business are alot further than a bike ride away. Publictransit is unheard of around here as well. But this is beside the point...

Hmm, let me see... Ok, IT is a tool, like a Swiss Army Knife (tm) is a tool, and most people can figure out how to use this tool. Most people would agree that this is a usefull tool, but different people use this tool to different degrees and most people will never use it to it's full potential, they just WANT it because their friends have one. The few people who use the tool to it's fullest potential will gain the most value from the purchase of said tool, they see the tool as a NEED. (Sorry, I have one and use it constantly, as do most techies I know, to me it's a need.)

Most companies have information technology, but only a few use it to the full potential.Most just see file sharing and print sharing, perhaps email, and that is IT. These people see little return from any IT investment, thus it is just a cost center to them, needed just because everyone else has it. Some businesses see IT at a higher level, using it to mine data, give information to customers, sell services or products, perform more efficiently at every level, etc... These people get the most value from IT even though they spend more on IT. These are the companies that see the NEED for IT instead of the WANT to have IT because everyone else has IT...

Oh well, sometimes I don't quite communicate my point too well, I hope you can gather something of what I am trying to express.

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