The Business Technology Management group on LinkedIn recently posted an Amazon review of The Power of Convergence: Linking Business Strategies and Technology Decisions to Create Sustainable Success (Hoque, F., L. Walsh, D. L. Mirakaj, & J. Bruckner (2011). As an organizational transformation consultant who has practiced whole system change for over 25 years, I am still surprised when I see authors forgetting to mention or downplaying the importance of converging business strategies and technological decisions with social system requirements.
I agree “no technology should be developed or deployed without a full vision of how it advances business goals, addresses customer needs, or both.” However, a third vital convergence is absent in the review of this book. That is the convergence between technology, business and social system needs. By social system, I mean the needs of both external and internal customers. Too often, technology has been implemented without the active involvement of its users during the design, planning and implementation phases. The results:
- under-utilization of extremely expensive technologies
- reduced productivity of employees forced to use the technology with no sense of its purposefulness
- overall, 80% “of technology projects costing more than they return”
These statistics behoove us to remember that technology is meant to be an “arm for human endeavor” not the reverse. If we only converge business and technology systems’ requirements without equal attention to the social system, we are creating environments where people are the servants of technology and business, not their partners, which is contrary to what many organizations would have us believe.
Most of us have been involved in technology implementations. As a user of that technology, were you involved in assessing needs; designing, choosing or modifying the technology to serve those needs; and, finally, planning for implementation and effective utilization?