Right now the abundance of technology tools and applications available to organizations is making the job of CIO or CMO a minefield of decisions. The lines between consumer applications and enterprise applications continue to blur with more organizations adopting a BYOD strategy. As an executive tasked with increasing efficiency or moving to the cloud how can you avoid the mistake of putting out fires everyday and address the bigger goal?
Technology solutions looking for problems
It’s very easy to get trapped in looking at consumer applications and implying organizational problems they can solve. Right now, in my opinion, applications and cloud providers are providing solutions that are in search of a problem.
For example, let’s look at Dropbox. I use it everyday and love it. When I have to travel to give a presentation all I need to do is drop the file into my Dropbox and suddenly I don’t have to worry if my laptop dies,or if I lose the USB stick while going through airport security. As a consumer, Dropbox solved the inconvenience of a USB or dead laptop battery for file retrieval. It would be a fallacy to think that your organization has the same problem and can be solved as easily. This is one example of looking at a feature – cloud based file sharing- and looking for an organizational problem to solve.
Start with the vision
Quite possibly the best vision statement ever given was by John F. Kennedy when he said “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” Notice that Kennedy didn’t say which rocket they should use because of a certain feature, or where the launch should be. He simply used the vision to set the goal- to the moon and safely back to earth.
Your technology vision ideally shouldn’t include products and features, but one that aligns to your organization’s overall vision. An example vision is below.
“As a customer-centric company we provide our employees with the right information regardless of their location.”
Set a strategy
After defining your vision it’s time to get a strategy in place. Strategies make visions consumable. Your strategy for implementing a cloud solution or application must focus on core business processes first. And in that focus, each strategy needs to include a business objective. Let me elaborate.
Using our vision statement above we will need a strategy to provide timely customer information to our employees. From here our business objective could be to make sure that our Call Center representatives have access to customer information, be able to respond to customer inquiries and have billing information available to make adequate decisions. Your business objectives can continue to refine and narrow down each strategy to fulfill the vision.
None of your strategies or vision statements should include a particular product. Implementing a particular product is a tactic related to the strategy. A poorly written strategy statement would be “Implement Google Docs for collaborative note-taking about customer calls.”
The false starting line
As a consultant I am lucky enough to work with many organizations who are implementing different technologies. One of the first questions I ask any prospective client is to define their vision and strategy for technology at their organization as well as around the tool. What I see too often is that they define their use of the tool around a feature or set of features not around a goal. Companies use features to help define their offerings and differentiate them. Features should only be looked at after your vision and strategies are defined.
For example if you call me and say “We are switching from Microsoft Dynamics to Salesforce because we want to move to the cloud.” But your strategy doesn’t include addressing any core business processes and is only moving the same functionality from Dynamics to Salesforce. In doing that you didn’t address anything and only moved your problem from one system to another. It isn’t the technology that failed you, although that is what you will blame, but rather the lack of vision.
I’ve covered a lot in this post and hopefully have sparked some thought and given you direction. If you leave with one take-away I hope it is this- It is easy to get caught up in looking at all the new shiney features of applications and cloud technologies, but without a clearly defined vision and strategy you are merely gambling on the chance that a feature will solve a problem you couldn’t identify.
“I am a Salesforce.com evangelist who is passionate about technology and learning more about cloud computing.”
Mike is the Founder & CEO of ButtonClick Media, LLC. and Director of Client Engagement for Red Argyle. ButtonClickAdmin.com is known as the top community site for Salesforce Admins and Developers to learn about new Salesforce features and best practices. Mike regularly interviews industry leaders on his top-ranking podcast such as the CIO of Appirio, the CEO of Indicee, and the CEO of Appiphony- a leading cloud application design company. Mike is a Salesforce MVP and Certified Salesforce.com Admin, Adv. Admin, Developer, and Sales Cloud Consultant who is responsible for helping passionate customers successfully craft and implement tailored goodness on the Salesforce platform.
He regularly speaks at Dreamforce- the largest cloud computing conference to standing room only crowds on topics such as blogging, Admin best practices, and Application Maximization. In 2011 Mike sat with Robert Scoble to discuss the future of cloud and gamification on an episode of Salesforce live.
Mike brings his passion for social enterprise technology and experience in communication studies to assist organizations of various sizes to successfully implement the right technology that provides business value.
His education includes the following degrees; Marketing/ Public Relations, and a BA in Communication Studies from the University of Iowa. Learn more about Mike from his LinkedIn, Google, or Salesforce Community profile.