Overcoming Technological Issues

By Bob Nemeth, Director of IT, AVL North America Corporate Services

According to Bob Nemeth, Director of AVL North America Corporate Services, Inc., the biggest “technological issues” doesn’t deal with technology instead the problem is that people have unrealistic expectations of technology. The key to address this is clear education. For example, users need to understand why the 2TB that they are being charged for by the IT Department is so much more expensive than the 2TBthey can buy from local electronics store. Or why it takes so long to install that “simple” application.

Bob Nemeth was most successful when using 2-prong approach­—engagement and transparency. Engagement – involve key users at the very beginning of a project: establishing requirements, providing feedback during the technology selection process, and helping with making decisions on timing for the implementation. They become fully vested in the project and have a much better idea of the details.

Transparency structures department and its activities in a way that allow for detailed cost accounting. For example, reports could be produced easily stating how much primary storage department X is using and what the cost of providing that storage is. This helps to empower the users to make decisions that make sense for them.

Delivering ROI
The most important factor to ensure that IT is delivering a good ROI is to be absolutely certain that its projects can be linked to the strategic initiatives of the business. Obviously this requires that IT actually KNOWS what those initiatives are first.But by doing this, it is more likely that IT is spending time and money on what the business feels is important.

IT as a Business Enabler
IT can truly contribute to the growth of the business is by being able to anticipate what the business is going to need and proactively plan for it before it actually becomes a need. If it can’t, then it is merely supporting the business and operating from a reactive position. IT needs to focus on becoming and remaining flexible and nimble. IT needs to be able to scale up (and down) quickly and as painlessly as possible. Scalability is critical factor when evaluating any technology. Scalability of personnel is also a key. It is terrible to hire and lay-off people instead structure department around a core of the best, know how to augment teams with contractors, consultants, and temp labor as needed. In the long run, this will provide the stability and continuity that is important IT Departments to have to be successful.

Technology Selection Strategy
According to Bob Nemeth, technology selection is straightforward and quite simple. First understand the need– exactly what is the problem you are trying to solve? Then define and prioritize the features required to satisfy the needs–be careful not to end up with systems full of bells and whistles you don’t need with the thought that you will “grow into them”. Engage with trusted partners, it is very unlikely that you or your staff has the time or capability to stay fully informed on the current state of the technology landscape:

  • New products/services
  • New vendors in the market
  • Possible merges
  • Product roadmaps

Assess the required skillsets and labor required to not just design and implement, but also administer and maintain.IT is a service organization, and the business users are our customers. Act like their satisfaction is critical for your survival.Ensure you understand what the key drivers are for the business and make sure these are properly supported.Engage with the business at all levels to learn what is causing difficulties in execution.IT managers MUST understand the industry their companies are in and be able to create an appropriate technology strategyIdentify IT trends relevant to your industry that are either opportunities for business growth (if leveraged) or are threats to business survival (if ignored) and plan accordingly.

Expectation of IT
Expectation of IT is summarized in one statement-every IT Department in every company should pay for itself, observes Bob Nemeth. According to him some things to be kept in mind.

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