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From Information Technology to Business Technology

By Dave Moorman, DynaSis

For decades, the technology world has described its industry as “Information Technology,” or simply, “IT.” There were IT workers, IT consultants, IT systems and IT companies―all of which were part of an ecosystem that stood alone and apart from “business.” IT systems enabled the preparation, storage and dissemination of business information, but few companies gave much thought to IT’s role in the business effort.

Over the past decade, however, companies and industry experts have begun talking about “business technology,” or BT, rather than IT. So, what is business technology? There is no official definition for the term and, in fact, it continues to evolve. However, the BTM Institute, a research think tank devoted to cross-disciplinary thought leadership, defines business technology as:

“The application of IT to deliver a business capability or automate a business operation―the result of configuring, implementing, applying and using IT to produce a business result.”

In other words, business technology is exactly as it sounds―the convergence of business directives and technological capabilities. Whereas the world might previously have thought of IT workers as ivory-towered geeks, working in the elite inner sanctums of their cubicles, business technology workers―also called business technologists―are deeply engaged with the company’s plans and objectives.

Have You Adopted Business Technology as an Approach?

BT-oriented companies understand that technology is a powerful mechanism for propelling business achievement; a tool to enable the attainment of corporate goals and results. They believe in measuring the performance of technology, not in terms of network availability or server uptime, but through key performance indicators (KPIs) tied to specific business strategies and goals.

This doesn’t mean that uptime and network reliability are not important. The ability of technology to carry out its missions is still paramount. However, BT-oriented firms incorporate technology strategy into their business planning and execution. They view their technology systems, workers and consultants, not as necessary adjuncts, but as value-add contributors to and partners in the company’s success.

Technology has always helped achieve business objectives, from reengineering processes and reducing costs to streamlining worker collaboration and communication. However, its value to the balance sheet has largely gone unrecognized, with management perceiving technology primarily as a cost center to be kept in check.

In a company that endorses business technology over information technology, that will no longer be the case. Technology will be a fundamental component of the business equation―technology and corporate blueprints and roadmaps will support each other and be inextricably linked. Furthermore, companies will be able to calculate the value technology should deliver and then benchmark the outcome against those projections. Such an approach may raise the expectations for technology, but it will also increase the rewards. If you’d like to discuss transitioning your firm from IT to BT (hint: it’s easier than you may think), give me a call.

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