Top 10 Mistakes Business Owners Make With Their Technology and IT Decisions

Technology. Love it or hate it, it’s a necessary part of business today. Some business owners feel investing in technology is a waste of funds. Others think technology works well for other business owners, but can’t make it work for them. Here’s a list of the top 10 mistakes business owners make that leads to the cost of inefficient IT adding up. Read it and avoid the same pitfalls.

1. Is IT a part of your strategic business plan? If not, why not?

If not, your company will be unnecessarily challenged in meeting strategic goals.Technology is complicated, confusing and intimidating, but also closely tied to the success of an ever increasing number of businesses in today’s marketplace. All you need is a good IT Advisor to work with you, make recommendations based on your goals, and deploy those recommendations on time and on budget. Don’t think it’s important? Well let’s review that for a moment.

  • Your client info is stored on computers
  • Your sales efforts, leads etc are stored on computers and require advanced software to track.
  • Your employees work on computers, and are more efficient with file and printer servers installed as part of the network.
  • Your communications rely on email, antivirus software, cell phones and SmartPhones and syncing them all back to office computers and so on.
  • All your data needs to be protected, backed up and available for recovery should disaster strike.

If you haven’t thought about just how important a regular IT audit & review is for your company, you’re leaving too much up to chance. IT is an integral part of your business. Give it the appropriate focus, budget and consideration and see how it can add value to the overall strategic plan.

2. Does your technology match your business plan or did you try to make your business plan fit with whatever technology you had?

If your growth strategy requires a team of independently operating sales reps, make sure your IT supports that in the most cost and time efficient way possible. If your work flow is more of a process that must go from person A to person B to person C, then your IT design should match your work flow. If it doesn’t, it’s costing you time and money.

Don’t make the mistake of making your business strategy fit into your existing IT set up. That could be a devastating move for your business. With the help of a trusted IT Advisor, you can find and implement solutions that support your business needs, add value to your company and simplify daily operations for your entire team.

3. Is Your Technology Secure?

  • Your threats might include:
  • A virus
  • A network wide virus
  • A fire
  • The failure of your single back up drive
  • Employee theft of data

And just plain ol’ we hack for the fun of it hackers Your technology should be secure. Many businesses under invest in this area and too many come to regret it. One unfortunate incident can prove to severely outweigh the cost of investing in appropriate security.

4. Are You Under Utilizing Technology In Your Business?

Have you purchased the right amount of technology or power for your needs? Are your processors slowing down your team? Is your server scalable? Do you continue to invest in an antiquated model when the cost/benefit ratio for a new system makes fiscal sense. Technology is an investment and can give your company a considerable competitive edge. Don’t overspend on unnecessary technology just because you are enamoured with “toys” – yes, this is the case with some rare folks. But do strike the correct balance that will give your business the IT power it needs to excel forward.

5. You bought what? How are you planning on using that technology?

You might be surprised to learn that there are cases of business owners purchasing technology and then never using it. It usually results from an impulse buy or a “sale” purchase. If your technology purchase was not part of strategic business plan, it may not fit in. If your technology purchase was the result of a sale, it may be the wrong technology. Even if it is the right piece of equipment or software, simply purchasing it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have thought enough about how to:

  • Make it work with what you’ve already got
  • How to properly install and configure it
  • How to train your team on using it properly/to full potential
  • Porting your data over to it…and so on.

Don’t be frivolous with IT purchases. Work with your IT Consultant to make planned purchases and implementations.

6. Don’t Get “Sold”

If you go out shopping for IT, or give most IT “departments” a budget, I assure you they will find something to spend it on. It may not be what your business needs, but they already have a “new”, “exciting” or “cutting edge” solution that they have been drooling over and dying to work with. Is it what best suits your needs? Maybe. Maybe not. Will it be the simplest most effective solution for your needs, and easy enough for all you employees to use? Are you sure about that?

It comes down to this: You don’t want business processes to fit in to your technology. You want the right technology to support your business processes in the most efficient way possible. An independent IT Consultant who won’t gain financially from a purchase recommendation is a wise choice here. Such an IT Advisor won’t “sell” you anything, but will help you navigate your options and purchase the IT you need.

7. Failing To Outsource

There comes a time in every new business when the cost benefit of managing your IT yourself diminishes to the point of no return. At that time, outsourcing might just be the sensible option. In mid size companies, outsourcing or having an IT firm on call as needed helps balance costs and necessary IT support. In a large company, outsourcing can significantly reduce the IT budget with Service Level Agreements.

Service Level Agreements are suitable for many companies, giving them a fixed cost for enough IT service to efficiently run their business. The best part is that Service Level Agreements cost a fraction of a full time IT employee. Be sure to explore this option thoroughly. Unless technology is your core service or product, your needs may best be served by an independent IT firm and a good Service Level Agreement.

8. Failing To Plan for the Worst

Disaster recovery is a term often used for cleaning up after a hurricane, tsunami or data loss. Albeit in different ways, all incidences are considered a disaster for those involved.

But data loss doesn’t just happen when a drive fails or becomes corrupted. Paper fades or goes up in a fire. Devices are stolen. Data Protection solutions help reduce such losses. Overall, a well thought out back up and recovery plan can be simple to implement and low cost to run. Not having a data backup and recovery plan is just too high of a risk. In some instances, it could mean the death of a business.

9. What’s Your IT Policy? How Many Hours Do You Want Employees On Facebook?

Endless of hours are wasted each day by employees who are the clock, but doing anything but business related work. Web surfing, IM, chatting, social media, online dating and personal email pervades the business landscape. You don’t have to be austere and cut it out completely, but you can monitor it, curb it and significantly reduce those lost productivity hours.

How about your company green policy and the environment? Is it important to you? Have you communicated that to your employees? Do they know not to print documents unless essential, to refill cartridges if possible, to recycle old electronics in appropriate ways?

Make it policy and it will stick. Whether it’s reducing wasted hours on social media or dating sites, or saving paper, your trusted IT Advisor can help you better manage your resources by implementing the right technology and policy.

10. Grow With It. Scale It. Upgrade. Keep Your Technology Up-To-Date.

Technology evolves faster and faster. Don’t buy in to the one sided view of “IT is a never ending cost with no return”. Rather, accept and plan for technology that will suit your purposes today but will also grow with you in future. Accept that upgrades are as essential as ongoing product development, sales training and team building. Avoid delaying upgrades until all your technology is obsolete and unsupported by your industry ( or the software industry), leaving you with an enormous upgrade bill due all at once.

Of course on the flip side of that token, don’t be the company buying up technology aimlessly. Your IT purchases should always be planned out and support your business model.

Impact of New Technologies by 2030

According to the 2012 report, Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, published the US National Intelligence Council, four technology arenas will shape global economic, social and military developments by 2030. They are information technologies, automation and manufacturing technologies, resource technologies, and health technologies.

Information technologies

Three technological developments with an IT focus have the power to change the way we will live, do business and protect ourselves before 2030.

1. Solutions for storage and processing large quantities of data, including “big data”, will provide increased opportunities for governments and commercial organizations to “know” their customers better. The technology is here but customers may object to collection of so much data. In any event, these solutions will likely herald a coming economic boom in North America.

2. Social networking technologies help individual users to form online social networks with other users. They are becoming part of the fabric of online existence, as leading services integrate social functions into everything else an individual might do online. Social networks enable useful as well as dangerous communications across diverse user groups and geopolitical boundaries.

3. Smart cities are urban environments that leverage information technology-based solutions to maximize citizens’ economic productivity and quality of life while minimizing resources consumption and environmental degradation.

Automation and manufacturing technologies

As manufacturing has gone global in the last two decades, a global ecosystem of manufacturers, suppliers, and logistics companies has formed. New manufacturing and automation technologies have the potential to change work patterns in both the developed and developing worlds.

1. Robotics is today in use in a range of civil and military applications. Over 1.2 million industrial robots are already in daily operations round the world and there are increasing applications for non-industrial robots. The US military has thousands of robots in battlefields, home robots vacuum homes and cut lawns, and hospital robots patrol corridors and distribute supplies. Their use will increase in the coming years, and with enhanced cognitive capabilities, robotics could be hugely disruptive to the current global supply chain system and the traditional job allocations along supply chains.

2. 3D printing (additive manufacturing) technologies allow a machine to build an object by adding one layer of material at a time. 3D printing is already in use to make models from plastics in sectors such as consumers products and the automobile and aerospace industries. By 2030, 3D printing could replace some conventional mass production, particularly for short production runs or where mass customization has high value.

3. Autonomous vehicles are mostly in use today in the military and for specific tasks e.g. in the mining industry. By 2030, autonomous vehicles could transform military operations, conflict resolution, transportation and geo-prospecting, while simultaneously presenting novel security risks that could be difficult to address. At the consumer level, Google has been testing for the past few years a driverless car.

Resource technologies

Technological advances will be required to accommodate increasing demand for resources owing to global population growth and economic advances in today’s underdeveloped countries. Such advances can affect the food, water and energy nexus by improving agricultural productivity through a broad range of technologies including precision farming and genetically modified crops for food and fuel. New resource technologies can also enhance water management through desalination and irrigation efficiency; and increase the availability of energy through enhanced oil and gas extraction and alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power, and bio-fuels. Widespread communication technologies will make the potential effect of these technologies on the environment, climate and health well known to the increasingly educated populations.

Health technologies

Two sets of health technologies are highlighted below.

1. Disease management will become more effective, more personalized and less costly through such new enabling technologies as diagnostic and pathogen-detection devices. For example, molecular diagnostic devices will provide rapid means of testing for both genetic and pathogenic diseases during surgeries. Readily available genetic testing will hasten disease diagnosis and help physicians decide on the optimal treatment for each patient. Advances in regenerative medicine almost certainly will parallel these developments in diagnostic and treatment protocols. Replacement organs such as kidneys and livers could be developed by 2030. These new disease management technologies will increase the longevity and quality of life of the world’s ageing populations.

2. Human augmentation technologies, ranging from implants and prosthetic and powered exoskeleton to brains enhancements, could allow civilian and military people to work more effectively, and in environments that were previously inaccessible. Elderly people may benefit from powered exoskeletons that assist wearers with simple walking and lifting activities, improving the health and quality of life for aging populations. Progress in human augmentation technologies will likely face moral and ethical challenges.

Conclusion

The US National Intelligence Council report asserts that “a shift in the technological center of gravity from West to East, which has already begun, almost certainly will continue as the flows of companies, ideas, entrepreneurs, and capital from the developed world to the developing markets increase”. I am not convinced that this shift will “almost certainly” happen. While the East, in particular Asia, will likely see the majority of technological applications, the current innovations are taking place mainly in the West. And I don’t think it is a sure bet that the center of gravity for technological innovation will shift to the East.

Technology Management Graduate Studies

The increasing importance of technology in every industry continues to drive the need for a diverse group of qualified professionals to manage the implementation and changes in technology. Pursuing a degree at a technology management graduate school can be the right step for beginning a rewarding career in the management of everything from computer hardware to information security within an organization.

Overview of Technology Management

Technology management professionals are in high demand because of the unique set of skills they possess. In this field, professionals are able to make leadership and management based decisions, develop solutions to technology issues, and approach the management of technology from a systems thinking perspective.

For any management professionals, some of the skills that are required include being able to manage personnel, organizational design and communication, and financial analysis and decision making. Technology management professionals combine this knowledge with specific information technology and systems technology skills and knowledge to effectively lead and make decisions for the assessment, forecasting, strategies, and decision making with a number of different information technology departments.

Technology Management Graduate Degree Curriculum

There are a number of technology_management graduate school choices for prospective students. While there are differences depending on the individual program and school, students most often complete a set of core courses, electives, and a graduate program in order to complete the graduate degree. This combination helps to prepare graduates to transfer relevant, useful skills into the workforce.

From graduate level courses in technology to business, students are able to learn a variety of skills and gain valuable knowledge. Some courses in technology often included information technology_management, operations, emerging technologies, and ethics. Additionally, students will take business and management courses such as supply chain management, sales and marketing, and accounting for technology.

These courses give students the opportunity to gain a broad foundation to develop an understanding of the basic fundamentals of technology management. The electives and the master’s project build on that foundation to help students begin to focus their education on a specific area of technology_management. Some examples of electives include knowledge management and relationship management. The master’s level project combines the knowledge, theory, and skill a graduate student has gained though academic coursework to examine how that ability can be transferred to a real-world, challenging business issue or problem in order to find a solution or manage a specific scenario.

Career Development with a Technology Management Graduate Degree

Technology professionals must develop a variety of skills. In addition to understanding information technology, professionals in this field must also be able to manage change with technology and technology systems, integrate functional areas of business, leveraging technology, and business management principles to effectively lead the technology driven functions of a business.

These skills are needed in many different types of positions across all types of workplaces, from the federal government to non-profit and educational organizations to private corporations. From the chief information officer to information technology manager, a degree in technology_management is a helpful tool to gain the experience and skills needed for all types of management positions of technology-driven departments.

Technology and Literacy Learning Through the Eyes of Students

The age of modern day learning has arrived. It is no longer a matter of whether we want to integrate technology and education; it is a necessity. The reality poses an immense problem and threat to the longstanding educational institutions that have for the most part remained unchanged for nearly a century. Who would have imagined that the alphabet’s letter “E” would forever transform the face of education to E-Ducation?

Technology in education has progressed from basic tools such as the abacus, pencil, ruler, paper and calculator to computers, laptops, iPads, tablets, software and apps. The technological advancements alone are forcing the manner in which teachers teach, how students learn, the ways schools are structured and breaking the barriers between home and school life. At its core, technology is impacting the very essence of the future of humanity.

Digital Natives: A Generation Dedicated to Learning with Technology

The prominence and rise of technology in the world applies to all aspects of life including how we learn. It appears that the days of “open your textbook, read the following pages and answer the questions” will be for the most part a thing of the past.

As educational institutions resist and make attempts to adapt, it is crucial to keep in mind the learning needs of today’s digital natives. The digital natives are those that were born during or thereafter the inception and introduction of digital technology.

This generation is not only accustomed to technological advancements and devices they expect it. As such, drastic measures will have to be implemented to meet the student’s expectations for learning. The key will be to adapt to an uncertain, modern, changing and dynamic global world.

Pivotal Technologies and Learning Portals

Technological advancements will allow education to be universally accessible, customized, individualized and highly adaptive. In essence, learning with technology is propelling independent learning to the forefront.

Now more than ever, students will have the opportunity to individualize and navigate the knowledge portals through pivotal technologies such as the Internet, Open Sources, Virtual Learning Environments and Mobile Learning Devices. Open Sources includes MOOCs and Web 2.0.

Massive Open Online Courses will allow students the autonomy and flexibility to choose what they want to learn independently. The Web 2.0 is simply the way new web pages are designed and used. Students will have a multitude of options by virtue of using Open Sources through a variety of Mobile Learning Devices.

Virtual Learning Environments will only enhance the learning experience by making it fun and interactive. Students will have a wide selection of learning mediums to complete assignments and receive feedback. Hence, the learning would be more interactive and engaging.

Individualized Learning and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

The role of the teacher would alter to monitor and provide feedback at an unparalleled level. Technology would of course also help the teacher with the many independent learning assignments, projects, presentations etc. of the student’s through the use of Learning Analytics. Learning Analytics is the accumulated of created data to continually evaluate and precisely guide student learning.

The digital natives are choosing their own devices to learn in a world that has cloud computing and the Internet. They are living in a digital information literacy online world. Their reality encompasses learning through educational games and virtual learning platforms. They are living in a world where the physical and virtual have amalgamated.

Learning with Technology from Students’ Perspectives

As such, what do kids think about technology and learning? How often do we really ask for their thoughts and opinions? Do we really take into consideration how and what they want to learn? Should what they have to say really matter how we as educators make decisions? Personally, I do believe that they do bring value to the decision-making table.

My sister in law is an eighth grade social studies teacher at a middle school. In a conversation with her, she mentioned to me the various ways she integrates technology in the learning. What I found especially of import was her comment on how the students use technology as easily as breathing.

She explained to me that now only do students expect it but that they demand it. She further informed me that it is a necessity and it brings lots of fun to the learning. As an educator, I firmly believe that learning should be continuous, fun, engaging, inquisitive, and ongoing.

Students are Right at Home with Technology

Humanity should be learning something new each and every day. It should be viewed from a window looking out into the horizon of each new day. It seems logical to catch a glimpse of learning through the eyes of children.

I often reflect on how my 7 year old niece sees the world and how through her eyes I learn something new every day. As Digital Natives do, she carries an iPad with her and frequently shares videos, cartoons, games, songs, etc. with me. I can literally say that I am learning things that a 7 year old child is learning.

Wow, the whole idea seems to put me in awe. What she has learned through the use of technology can be only termed as amazing. The ease, comfort and curiosity that impel her to learn independently without her parents or teachers imposing “because you have to” are truly remarkable.

Learning with Technology: A Necessity

Never in the history of our world has the trajectory of technology education been a certainty to create a better global society where one and all will have the opportunity and accessibility to be literate.

A view from a student’s perspective about learning with technology as mentioned above is a 6 part series that will include technology and students, learning with technology, student’s and iPads, learning with games and virtual learning. Stay tuned to next week’s blog article on students learning with technology.

The time has come when student learning has gone beyond the classroom because the use of technology. Now, student can engage in a much more interactive way to increase learning.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Magali_Lopez/1830257

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/8325491

How to Choose a Technology Partner?

You have discovered the need to enlist the help of a technology partner, doesn’t seem like it should be too difficult to find, just Google it, right?

The dizzying amount of results that this simple search returns will put a kink in your plans to have a list of potential technology partners to your boss by this afternoon. There are a lot of things that need to be considered when picking your technology partner and a lot of criteria you should keep in mind when making this decision. Seize the opportunity to turn this decision into a strategy to stay ahead of your competition.

First, let’s define what a technology partner is and how a technology partner is different from any other technology company. Technology partners offer technical expertise to assist you with your technology needs. A technology partner works alongside your team, taking the time to learn your business and educate you on the technical options available to you. Rather than just waiting for the end product, a technology partner will communicate and collaborate with you throughout the entire project so that the final product meets your needs, saving you time and money. Now that we have defined what a technology partner is, there are considerations that need to be addressed prior to choosing the right partner for you.

You have discovered the need to enlist the help of a technology partner, doesn’t seem like it should be too difficult to find, just Google it, right? The dizzying amount of results that this simple search returns will put a kink in your plans to have a list of potential technology partners to your boss by this afternoon. There are a lot of things that need to be considered when picking your technology partner and a lot of criteria you should keep in mind when making this decision. Seize the opportunity to turn this decision into a strategy to stay ahead of your competition.

BEFORE YOUR SEARCH:

Before you even begin searching for a partner you need to consider your budget, internal resources, your intended market, and role of the new software. You should know where your company stands on this project and how much your company is willing to spend on this project. These are all important things to understand yourself before you engage potential partners.

It is important to ask yourself a few questions about the project itself. What will you need the software for? How intuitive do you need the software to be for the end-user? Is there something on the market already that would fit your needs? After you have answered these questions you will be able to see the extent of the project and have a better idea of the resources that you will need from a technology partner. With a better understanding of the project itself and how your company will handle it, you now have to determine what attributes are important in a technology partner.

CONSIDERATIONS

When it comes to making the decision on which company to partner with on your project it is important to take multiple factors into consideration. Your company is investing a lot of money into this one project so it is important that the project is set up to succeed. This decision can make or break your projects success so you need to take your time and do your research to find the company that is the best fit for your company and your project. You will want to see a track record of a potential partner’s level of customer service. You may have to obtain referrals and references from past customers in order to prove the level of customer service they have provided. Past projects are telling of what you can expect from the companies on your project.

To have a successful project you need to hire a company that has an understanding of your business or a company that makes understanding your business a priority. A lack of understanding in these situations can result in a project that is disjointed from your company and your message. Although companies might have an excellent level of technical expertise it will do no good if they produce a product that does not look like yours. One of the reasons that you are in search of a technology partner is likely because your company is similar to many others out there and resources are hard to come by. Make sure that potential partners have the resources you need. This information can be validated by asking for referrals, references, and looking at a portfolio of projects the company has completed. Another great way to find this information out is to ask what technologies the company uses and ask to see examples. This is one area where it will pay off to do your due diligence.

To confirm a company’s experience you should ask for a timeline of projects they are currently working on and the projects they have worked on in the past. This will be helpful for you to see if they have worked on projects similar to yours in the past which will demonstrate if they have the ability to complete your project. A timeline will also be helpful because you will be able to see if they have worked with teams and companies of comparable size.

One of the keys to a projects success is the ability to meet deadlines and make the release date. Responsiveness is a big part of being able to complete the project on time and you want a company you work with to respond to you when you have questions or changes that need to be made. You should be able to tell if a company will be as responsive as you expect from early on in your engagement.

It is important when hiring a consultant to work on your project that they are objective. You want the potential partners to be able to give you objective advice about technology. This can be an issue when some companies are only willing to work in one technology. You want to use the technology that works the best for your project and will be the most beneficial. Make sure before committing to one company that you ask what technologies the company works in and you should be able to tell from their answer their willingness to work in different environments.

Making sure your business style will work with the company you choose is important. If the company has an informal business style, but your company is formal there might be some issues. The level of professionalism should match, limiting the number of problems you might encounter. This might ensure the teams are compatible and will integrate well with each other.

Are these potential partners going to be available when you need them to be? Confirm with potential companies that they have more than one employee dedicated to your project. You may want to consider using a company that uses Project Managers or Engagement Managers to ensure that you will be able contact someone when you need to. Project managers are helpful as a single point of contact.

Chemistry and ease of doing business are important aspects to consider when choosing a technology partner. If the rapport between your team and a potential technology partner are off there will be issues that will be hard to overcome. You will get an idea of this from your initial look into the company, were they easy to get a hold of? Did you mesh well with the employees you have spoken to?

Does this project require ongoing support and do the companies you are considering offer the support you will need? Will the company prepare your own team to take over maintenance upon completion? You will have to consider what you need from the company after the completion of the project and then match those needs with a company that offers those services.