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CEOs must talk to IT

Technology will increase a company’s overall revenue and drive profits. But, if it is badly implemented it could adversely affect a business. It is for this reason that DAYLE WHEELER believes communication is critical between business decisions and technology implementation.

A CEO’s job is to create value for the company’s shareholders, which means running a profitable business. Technology, implemented and used correctly, can without a doubt increase revenue and drive profits: there are myriad examples of this wherever we look. However, when technology is badly implemented or used incorrectly, it can have a hugely negative impact on the business.

Dayle Wheeler, Managing Director at ModernBusiness, says with so much at stake, communication is critical between business decisions and technology implementation. Yet, in today’s fast changing and competitive world, there seems to be a lack of communication between business and technology for a number of reasons. “This is most noticeable where it is needed most: at the SME level, but surprisingly also at the enterprise level where it is safer to continue on a given path than innovate,” he says.

Perhaps, IT has not delivered on what was marketed as ‚Äòimplement IT and your profits will be automatic’ and so have been relegated to just another cost department or support function, or a necessary evil in business eyes. Then came CIO’s, CTO’s and CMO’s to try and bridge the gap with varying levels of success, knowledge of the business and technology, not to mention that only the largest of companies able to justify such positions.

This lack of communication is equally rooted in language, Wheeler points out. “Business speak talks of agility, managing risk and long term goals with short term bumps thanks to customer sentiment and shareholder needs. Tech speak is acronym based that takes an already complicated explanation and makes it hard to understand. Technology too, is risk adverse by nature, with security being a primary consideration, and although technology is changing rapidly, implementation into companies is a substantial cost commitment and time taking activity.

Communication does not stop there, and he stresses that the ‚Äòpeople factor’ is still the most important when it comes to ensuring success for a new technology implementation. “This is why buy-in from the executive team is needed from the start, and all the way down the command chain, to understand the benefits and reasons for change.

He explains that it is only when communication is going both ways, from technology to business and business to technology, that true modernisation can be reached.

Wheeler adds that no one is saying the CEO needs to be actively involved in all technology undertakings or the running of a technology project. “It is unlikely the CEO needs to be involved an any but the most crucial and strategic projects. However, managers need to sponsor and spearhead IT initiatives, and as influence trickles down from the top, the CEO needs to give the message that this technology project is important and significant, otherwise it can be undervalued or just left to the IT department to implement. In this way, everyone from the CEO down needs to work with the technology department to deliver a successful outcome.

The CEO also needs to motivate that only by being open to change, and able to embrace new ways of using technology, can employees develop themselves and learn new skills. “If the business and its staff have a solid understanding of where they are going and how they are using technology to get there, instead of taking a hands-off approach and leaving it up to IT, or merely farming it out to consultants, they can actively participate in improving the processes around the technology and therefore ensuring implementation success.

Wheeler explains that as with any relationship, communication is the key to success.

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