Have you tried fitting a round peg in a square hole? No matter how many times you do it, you know that this is impossible and you will only be frustrated. The same thing happens when your IT and business strategy are not aligned. Don’t expect one to complement the other if they don’t see eye to eye or if they go in different directions.
History is replete with examples of businesses that have gone bad when technology and business strategy don’t meet. The technology battlefront, in particular, is littered with products that failed to take off because of wrong decisions, unrealistic expectations, and lack of foresight.
In many cases, this occurs when a company jumps into a new IT project without knowing its repercussions and how it will affect the business. Another reason for failure is that the affected business doesn’t have the necessary IT resources to deal with the problems it creates or respond swiftly to correct its mistakes.
Tech failures due to misalignment
To illustrate this, here are classic examples of IT disasters that stemmed from the gap between technology and business strategy:
- Napster – A boon to music lovers, this independent peer-to-peer file sharing service allowed people to easily share MP3 files with others via a user-friendly interface. Old songs, unreleased recordings, and hard-to-find bootleg recordings were available for anyone to download.
For a while, everything was good since some felt that Napster helped promote the music industry and popularized online file sharing. At the height of its popularity, the service was patronized by 80 million people.
But that also proved to be its undoing. The service was swamped by legal problems over copyright infringement that eventually led to its downfall. Napster was forced to shut down only to appear later as an online music store. Sadly, the new subscription-based system wasn’t a hit, and the company went bankrupt.
- BlackBerry – Before the iPhone and Android devices got our attention, BlackBerry dazzled us with its iconic devices. These smartphones helped users go online, send and receive email, and chat using BlackBerry Messenger. The handsets were so popular that Research in Motion (the company’s former name) managed to sell over 50 million devices in 2011. By 2013, there were 85 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide.
Several good things were going for BlackBerry at that time: secure communications, mobile productivity, and its keyboard. But the magic didn’t last. The company failed to update its operating system and stuck with its physical keyboard instead of switching to a full touchscreen. In the end, Blackberry couldn’t keep up with the more popular Android and iOS platforms and by 2016, sales fell to four million devices yearly. The king of smartphones was dethroned and has yet to recapture its former glory.
- MySpace – In 2006, Time named this as one of the 50 best websites. It was a well-deserved honor since the site helped popularize social networking. Users can create personal profiles, build their network of friends, blog, and share music, photos, and videos. Because of that, MySpace was the most visited website in the United States and was even more popular than Google.
But alas, as Barbra Streisand says, some good things never last. In 2009, the site found a new rival in Facebook and couldn’t keep up with the competition. MySpace eventually lost the battle since Facebook learned to adapt to the changing tastes of its users. Currently, the reigning social networking giant has1.86 billion monthly active users.
Reasons why businesses fail
As the above examples show, disaster strikes when technology and your business strategy fail to connect. This can happen for a number of reasons:
- Your IT department is clueless and has no idea where your business is going
- Leaders are ignorant about IT and what it can do
- Those in power insist on using outdated technology
- IT decisions are done separately without thinking about how this will affect the business
Aligning IT and business strategy ensures that your IT department supports the goals of your company. Every IT-related investment, activity, service, or project must enhance your business.
In closing, small business owners should have a good idea of their IT resources and fully use them for continued growth. This will help them cope with the changing market and make their business relevant in the years to come.
Do you want your business to stand out? Take advantage of our affordable business and technology fit assessment. Our friendly experts at Capstone IT will analyze your business and tell you how to make it grow with the help of the right technology services. Our reliable IT services and IT support team has helped many small business owners in the Rochester-Buffalo and West Palm Beach-Treasure Coast areas. Call us today to learn more!