Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Romi Mahajan.
Being impressed with technology is a good thing; being enamored by it is dangerous.
Large swaths of both business and personal life are enabled and intermediated by technology. Technology as a tool for positive change yields powerful results in terms of speed and scale. Technology, however, does not have context and context is the special sauce that makes organizations (and homes) great.
In that sense, we are on a continuum. In the world of data, for instance, we say that we start with data, progress to information, and ultimately seek wisdom. Similarly, in the world of IT, we need to buy (or invent) technology, then deploy and use it, and finally use it to innovate and accelerate. Context is what helps us evolve through the chain.
Given this, we must discard the purely technocratic philosophy and adopt a more holistic approach to the problems we face in business. The consequences for not doing so are large.
Take the area of cybersecurity as an example. Experts agree that technology-based defense strategies are necessary but insufficient. If you don’t have adaptive processes and a clear people strategy, you’ll be only be as strong as your weakest link. Another common example is the ERP space. Installing an ERP system- at huge cost – is not a quick win. You’ve also got to change the culture of the organization to take advantage of it. Put simply, technology is a tool but isn’t the whole answer.
That said, in a world in which business and technology are inextricably linked- like vines that grow around each other—progress is made possible with the application of the right technologies. So deep technical skills are necessary, and when coupled with business, process, and people acumen, it becomes a force to be reckoned with.
Technology, when combined holistically with other skills, creates the foundation for real progress. When organizations either have issues to deal with that are affecting their ability to grow or when they have visible market opportunities that they need to quickly seize, technology can play a fundamental role.
A last example helps round out the argument. Lack of collaboration is one issue that impedes organizations’ ability to grow. People work on their own, and rarely share knowledge and know-how. When executives realize this, they usually look for technology solutions. They buy software and services to “fix” the “problem.” When the software is installed and communications about the new technology goes out, the executives trumpet success. Six months down the road however, collaboration is still low and the software is hardly used, other than when it is mandated. Sound familiar?
The issue here is that there are deeper and non-technical reasons for the lack of collaboration. It’s a people issue, not a silicon issue. Here, technology stripped of context doesn’t help. In fact, it’s costly.
While any one example can seem facetious, the spirit of the point is intact.
Technology in context is the underpinning of progress and success.
Romi Mahajan is the CEO of KKM Group, a boutique consulting firm that offers marketing, strategy, and content guidance to executives across sectors including Technology, Financial Services, Media, Agency and Consumer Goods. Romi is a board member of Socedo.