“Software is eating the world.”
I seem to be hearing and seeing that expression all over the internet lately, that it’s almost sounding like meme nowadays.
But it also happens to be true.
Can you think of a single type of company or organization in existence today that doesn’t rely on the power of software in order to do business?
Even the smallest mom & pop businesses, unless they’ve been doing business in a cave for the past thirty or forty years, use some sort of software to help keep track of their bookkeeping… maybe Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, and Microsoft Word or Google Docs to write all their correspondence, letters, press releases, etc.
And even if the business is a traditional brick & mortar retail store, having an internet presence is an absolute must if you want to reach billions of potential customers around the rest of the world.
Since the dawn of the personal computer revolution back in the 1970s, computers and software have been steadily revolutionizing the way companies have traditionally done business.
But we take it for granted, so we often don’t realize how much software and technology have become ingrained into our lives.
Even the food carts and stands I go to for lunch have point of sale systems where you can either swipe or insert your debit card, or if you have a smartphone or smartwatch, let you wave your device over the terminal, and voila, instant purchase.
And when we look past the small mom & pop businesses and into the bigger arena of large companies and corporations, there’s just no way around it… you can’t survive as a business without information technology.
Every Business Needs IT Services
Companies that don’t make their direct revenue from the sale of software and related services, still must use information technology in order to do business.
Insurance companies, car companies, trucking companies, shipping, clothing, you name it, they all need IT to survive in this day and age.
IT Talent: Offshore vs. In-House
If a company is trying to build out their IT services from scratch, one avenue that often gets explored is the use of offshore services.
I’m sure that for some organizations, offshore talent is enough. But in my experience, it can cause long-term headaches and problems for the organization. Hiring offshore teams outside of the United States is very popular with many companies, due to the relative cost savings associated with many offshore teams.
However, there are the hidden logistical costs of dealing with timezone challenges when working with offshore teams in India and China. When dealing with those extreme time zone differences, American workers will only have a small 1-3 hour time window where both the offshore team and the parent organization can conduct meetings and do business together, while both parties are still awake.
Outside of that brief window, U.S-based teams usually having to wait until the next day to get a reply from the offshore team. It becomes a logistical challenge, not to mention the friction it causes, forcing employees to either come in at ungodly hours of the morning or way past their bedtime, in order to work around these timezone challenges.
Benefits of In-House IT Teams
Sooner or later, most organizations come to the conclusion that building out an in-house technology department will be the most cost-effective long-term solution for driving more revenue and/or creating efficiencies in the company, using the power of software and technology.
In-house IT employees have a personal stake in the company. The success of their company directly affects things like their wage compensation, company stock options and yearly bonuses and performance reviews.
With an in-house information technology department, a company suddenly has a powerful way to monetize new business ideas, using the power of software development.
The Power of Software
Software also is a powerful way to help automate long and tedious manual processes. The greatest strength of computer software is the ability to do repetitive tasks at a superhuman rate, much faster than what we puny humans can accomplish.
What eventually happens is each distinctive division of a company will use the power of information technology to help them do their job more effectively.
Say you’re the sales division of the company, responsible for generating new customers and increasing overall sales revenue for the organization.
The first thing you’d want to do is make sure all your existing customers are stored in an easy to access database system that is easy to access and query from any other software system.
Naturally, you’d want to either pick a customer relationship management software system to keep track of potential new sales leads and customers as well.
And then a reporting software system to help report all past and future revenue projections.
If you’re the order fulfillment division of the company, your business concern will be all about thinking about how to take the sales order information and performing whatever work is necessary to manufacture and assemble the order, based on the sales order specifications.
So as part of the order fulfillment division, you need to make sure you can access the sales order information stored in the sales database, in order to properly suss out exactly what needs to be manufactured from the sales order.
Once the order has been fulfilled, you want to make sure you create the proper digital record to record what exactly was done to assemble the order.
From there, the shipping department needs to take the information stored from the order fulfillment database, as well as the sales order information from the sales department, in order to create the finalized shipping invoice which contains all the information needed to ship the finalized order to the customer.
The shipping department will naturally want to store all their shipment fulfillment information into a centralized data repository as well.
You’ll notice how important it becomes to ensure that each of these digital sub-systems can easily interact with each other. In fact, it’s an absolute necessity. If the order fulfillment part of the company can’t retrieve the customer sales order information, there’s simply no way to know what exactly to manufacture and assemble for the order.
Similarly, if the order fulfillment division can’t submit their information to the shipping department, it will be impossible to know where exactly to the ship the finalized order to.
This is the true power of software. Enabling businesses to do things faster, and more efficiently.
IT Is Not a Silver Bullet
Of course, I’m oversimplifying how information technology works, but in every IT department I’ve worked for in my career, this is essentially how an IT department gets utilized within the company.
Of course, what I’m describing is the “happy path”.
When used properly, an information technology department can help an organization become much more effective at doing business.
But when not properly used, the IT department can become more of a hindrance than a help.Like it or not, every company is a software company. You can’t do business without it. Click To Tweet
Each division of the company must work in cooperation with the information technology department.
I’ve seen organizations where the IT department is at odds with other divisions of the company, and what ends up happening is failed projects.
Information technology is not a magical silver bullet.
But like it or not, every company is a software company. You can’t do business without it.