Should techies or business owners decide on technology (or both)?

It’s no secret that, in most companies, the technology folks are primarily the ones deciding on which new technologies to adopt – after all, they are the ones that understand the technology, right? Business owners explain the business problem to the technologists, and the techies take it from there – and ultimately present 2-3 different solutions that will work and the business picks the cheapest (and/or the vendor that employs the rep that provides the most golf outings).

This could be great- if it weren’t for the fact that, like everyone, techies have their own agenda, which ends up tainting the decision process. Consider some of the following:

  • Comfort level with existing vendor (if it ain’t broke why fix it? This assumes all of the vendor’s products work equally well)
  • Job security (“why learn something new? Maybe they’ll hire someone that already knows this!”)
  • Delusions of grandeur (“I have the power!”)
  • Fear (“it sounds amazing, but what if the stuff doesn’t work?)
  • Disbelief (“my current gear can’t do this, there’s no way this new stuff is that good!”)
  • Laziness (“you mean I have to test this new stuff? It cuts into my online gaming time!”)
  • Envy (“my buddy at this other company has this stuff, I must have something cooler/bigger!”)
  • Lack of time (“I really don’t have the time to test this new stuff!”)
  • Vendor kickbacks (we all know it happens in one form or another, and to the perennially under-paid techies, an expensive gift may be something they will never otherwise be able to afford, so it gains huge importance in their eyes)
  • The inability to grasp the real business drivers
  • The inability to think strategically
  • Being wowed by “cool” features that are of dubious business importance (see other post here)
  • Conversely, not understanding features that could be of immense business importance, that could save the company millions and increase productivity tenfold.

Of course, someone like a CIO or CTO normally acts as the bridge that spans the techie and business worlds, but of course that doesn’t always work (see here).

The only way around the issue is to create a new decision process for the company, one that involves all the interested parties from all departments. As complex as it may sound, this does work, and most of the time new ideas/issues get unearthed (“what do you mean my database is not backed up now?” or “what do you mean it would take 2 weeks to recover my lab environment?”)

Try it, you may be surprised at what happens!


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