Archive for September, 2010

Respect the Tech

Friday, September 10th, 2010

It never ceases to amaze me how little respect some business owners give the technology that is the life blood of their company. For example, I remember walking into a $20 million construction company that appeared very well run. Their offices were neat and clean, with inspirational slogans and the corporate mission statement hung on the wall with pride. The owner had run another similar company, taken it to $100 million and then sold out to a national conglomerate. He definitely knew what he was doing from a business perspective. So I was a bit surprised when the server room turned out to literally be a closet with rack in it. The door was propped open and the room was still over 100 degrees. At some companies this would not be surprising, but this construction company dealt mainly in very competitive state and federal government construction projects that require very detailed estimates and responses to request for proposals (RFP’s). This data and documentation was a key component to their success yet they treated their data and systems as an afterthought. I was struck by the irony of how well they cared for and protected their work trucks and tools, but basically abused their computer systems. When I asked a few questions about the details of their support and upgrade plans, their management replied with various versions of “we are not computer guys”. However, most of them spent their day in front of computers either writing proposals or running the accounting or estimating software. When I asked them what would happen if the computer system was stolen, they responded that they would be out of business in a matter of days.

I believe this concept of “not being computer guys” is something that business owners need to get over. It’s like saying “I’m not good with money” or “I’m not much good at making sales”. Saying that technology is not your thing may have gotten you some empathy from your likeminded cronies in the past, however this may make you look just as incompetent as the business owner who says “I’m not good with finances” in the future. Which is not to say you need to become a geek, but you do need to take information technology seriously and either develop or hire coverage in this area. So in some ways it is like augmenting your legal knowledge. As a business owner you probably don’t want to go around saying “I’m not good with laws and contracts” but you probably are not going to take law classes either. You’d mostly take this key component of your business seriously and hire the needed quality resources to create the needed coverage. Oh and by the way, when you looked for this help you probably would look for reputable, experienced resources and it would be unlikely that you would hire your teenage nephew to write those legal contracts for you – Right? You’d never do that?