Last century, computers were considered to be a mere tool for mechanising companies’ administrative processes, and therefore the responsibility for computer systems fell mainly to the accounting and finance departments, as they were considered to be just another expense to the entered into the company results.
Nowadays, computers and, in general, all information and telecommunications system technology should be seen not only as mechanisation tools but as tools for improving all the processes of a business, both administrative as well as those existing in any area of the organisation, in its internal relations with its employees and partners, and in its external relations with clients, suppliers, interested parties and the world in general, as, in the current information society, it is impossible to imagine a company in isolation and which is not present on social media.
This change of paradigm implies significant consequences such as, for example, are no longer a cost or inconvenience the organisation has to suffer, but rather are an investment aimed at protecting and expanding the business. Furthermore, IT should be present from the outset in any business decision, for the purpose of planning, foreseeing and anticipating needs, avoiding any corrective actions or making any IT investments which will significantly affect the business simply due to the price, as if this were an expense.
In view of this important challenge, organisations have different alternatives but, unfortunately, most of them go about this the wrong way, or they are simply not aware of it.
On the one hand, IT in Spain, in contrast to most countries around us, is overly minimised. Computing is easy: everybody knows about computing, telephones and the Internet, as everybody is an increasingly advanced user in a domestic sphere, and it is assumed that the implementation of an IT solution in a company will not be much more complicated that downloading a YouTube video, for example. Even a child could do this.
On the other hand, computing is one of the sectors with most professional encroachment, possibly more than any other. From self-trained computer technicians or those with insufficient training but providing computing services to companies, to entrepreneurs coming from other sectors or areas of knowledge and establishing IT companies, with business knowledge but with no training or sufficient technological knowledge in order to take the best decisions for advising their clients in the current digital world, which is complex and ever-changing.
Therefore, when an organisation turns to the market to seek computing solutions, it commits an initial mistake, namely, seeking a solution, a technological tool, to a specific need without previously having aligned its business needs. It might also commit a second mistake, as it is highly likely that it will not find the most suitable professional to advise it correctly.
In large-scale organisations, these problems do not usually occur, as they have a suitably-trained IT manager who participates in business decisions and has quality control protocols in place for their suppliers.
In small-scale organisations, there are no significant or complex needs, and they can survive without being unduly concerned about such matters, although a good IT service provider is necessary.
However, midsize organisations find themselves in the most difficult position, as they face needs similar to those of a large-scale organisation but have fewer resources and less culture regarding the role and importance of IT for their business.
This problem is increased by the fact that most of these organisations, even though they are aware of changes in the ways of doing business and in their relationship with society, still consider IT as a mechanisation tool, and still usually place it under the control of a financial manager or, in some cases, under the general management of the company, but without the organisation being aware that it does not have the necessary IT knowledge enabling it to take the best decisions in line with its business and that these decisions do not jeopardise important aspects of computer system security, and that they might have important legal consequences or aspects which might compromise the continuity of the business.
In other words, if it seems reasonable to think that the financial manager of an organisation should have sound accounting knowledge, it should be reasonable for the IT manager, or the person taking IT decisions, to have sound knowledge of IT, with broad basic training in technological disciplines and the specific ongoing development imposed on us by the digital world, with continual important changes which occur increasingly quickly. Moreover, the IT manager must also have business training or experience, enabling them to attain the objective of aligning technology solutions and business needs.
In order to help these midsize organisations which can not afford an IT manager with a suitable professional profile, the figure exists of the external IT consultant, which we at Auren offer to the extent each organisation requires, for the purpose of complementing the knowledge missing from the company and helping it organise its IT as an important integrated part of the business, allowing such organisations to live and progress in the 21st century with greater confidence and success.
Xavier Sala Leseduarte, IT Consulting Managing Partner, Spain.