What Small Solution Providers Can Learn from CIOs

CIOsA CIO is much different than a CTO. CTOs are technology gurus who know the ins and outs of all things technology for an organization. CIOs on the other hand are focused on the business aspect of technology. They focus on driving efficiencies and profitability through the effective use of processes and procedures to align technology to business objectives. CIOs should have a greater leadership and communication acumen, but with the technology know-how.

The Business Perspective of Technology

Small and medium sized solution providers rarely have this type of position. But even without the CIO position, it is still important for CEOs and service managers to take on this role and dedicate a subset of their time to looking at technology from a business perspective. This not only includes a solution providers own technology and communications structure, but the technology offered to clients or used to provide client services as well.

Being Holistic

In an article coming out next month in Channel Pro Magazine, I briefly talk about Sacred Cow Vendors. Those in which a solution provider uses because it is convenient, others are using them, or a number of reasons that really don’t make a business case for using a specific vendor.

But a CIO mindset is not just about vendor selection, it is about looking at technology from a holistic manner to understand and define how to use that technology in the most efficient way possible. Being holistic in this manner, makes you look at how technology effects other technology and more importantly how technology drives efficiency, profitability and a better work environment.

Broken Windows

In one of my favorite books, , the case is made for why business leaders need to ALWAYS be looking at every problem or inefficiency in their business, i.e. a “Broken Window.” One cannot ever settle for mediocrity. By not constantly driving better efficiency from your processes and systems is a manner of accepting mediocrity. I love the look in people’s eyes, when they think nothing can be done to make a specific process leaner, and then they discover the magic step that drives more efficiency.

A colleague and friend of mine recently implemented a very thorough and detailed standardization plan across all their managed services clients. The project took 3 months and was critical to solving many broken windows that existed in their service delivery. One might think that it would be enough, especially if you saw the complexity of the project; but creating efficiency is part of the next quarterly and annual goals and they will be drilling down to every single minuscule detail to find the efficiencies in every part of their business.  I have no doubt that it will be part of the long-term strategy to drive profitability and better customer service by driving greater and greater efficiency.

Call to Action

If more solution providers would focus on driving efficiencies from technology and processes, rather than trying to chase after the next shiny thing that promises to save them time, there would be much more mid-size and larger-sized solution providers, and less of the small solution providers that flood the market. I challenge you to dedicate time to putting on the CIO hat and drilling down into every action, process, and technology to find how to better drive efficiency, lower costs, increase profitability, and improve customer service.

Please leave your thoughts below on ways you have driven greater efficiency and profitability from improvement of your processes, services and systems.