Is there too much or too little technology in the workplace?

Look at the buzzwords in technology and businesses today. From BYOD to portable data capture, Hyper-V to water cooled graphics cards, ERP to LMS there is no doubt about it, the amount of technology in business is growing at a fast pace. But a constant debate we’ve had over the last decade is do businesses have too much or too little technology?


Give me paperless!


Isn’t being paperless one supposed benefit of having more technology? Surely it’s a positive if businesses need less paper? If we have tablets, smartphones, PDAs, laptops, workstations, large screens, monitors, web conferences, office applications, on-line reports, big data storage and retrieval, why then have a need for printers, photo copiers, scanners, fax machines, A4 pads, pens & pencils, highlighters, sticky notes, staples, paper clips and cupboards full of office stationary?

For a start from the Boardroom to young software designers people like to jot down thoughts and draw on paper, share ideas on flip charts and brain storm with sticky notes. Then we talk at some point about disaster recovery and business continuity at which point a paper rather than a paperless society is discussed. Later on someone also mentions point of sale receipts or invoices. Then auditors ask for signatures, paper trails and storage of hard copy records and contracts. Managers too all seem to have educational folders, full bookshelves and teams with training notes.  It seems then like a paperless office is still somewhere deep into the future..


I can’t get the trained staff!


Another cry we hear from CIOs and Heads of IT is about difficulties buying the right people or freeing up time for existing team members to attend training. That’s the thing about constantly evolving IT landscapes, that they also need a lot of care, attention and maintenance. Are there enough trained and available people to understand and test the latest patches, upgrades, features, reports and monitors? Or even be in a position to apply them properly? Besides which where does it all end? Do you patch or upgrade, stick with what you have or get the latest versions, look for major features as the business changes or live with what is there, go for bespoke changes or something off the shelf, analyse platform compatibility, decide to run any change as BAU or a project? As importantly you then must decide who owns the change? Is it the CIO, CMO or someone else on the Board? Then finally come back to where we started, buy in help or train people? Has this constantly growing hunger for more technology now become the norm for businesses? Probably in short for many, yes.


Where is my ROI?

That’s the other thing. When does the Programme or Project Team, PMO and Finance functions get involved? How big does a patch have to be for an ROI to be calculated and who works this out? Unless it is capital expenditure does anyone even care as long as operational budgets aren’t overspent? Has the appetite and thirst for the latest improvement got in the way of thinking about the mighty dollar? Or simply had the equation got too complex, small or frequent in places? Then there is the matter of linking hard benefits to a project. With frequent and complex changes are some benefits becoming blurred between projects or even between projects and BAU activities? From server farm upgrades to smart phone and supporting software roll-outs who tracks what and for how long? Has it all become too complicated? Or is this really a concern? The reality is the desire for more technology improvements has never been greater.


So do businesses have too much or too little technology? Well whilst it looks like the office stationary duties will still be around for a long time, technology in businesses will grow. Ideas such as Lean, approaches including Agile, Kanban and ITIL all embrace how businesses work with technology and adopt it. PMOs are becoming more prominent to help with management and control. Demand for the Cloud, Apps and Internet based collaboration is growing. The workplace has become less caring about how much technology it employs because it simply cannot get enough. So maybe it is more about getting the right mix, management and financial controls, strategic partners, keeping pace and overtaking the competition and understand the most efficient ways to maintain what is there.