Why the Patchwork Approach to Technology is Bad for Your Business
Ever been to a hospital with three or more distinctly different buildings, connected by multiple elevator banks (some of which don’t reach all floors), corridors that suddenly dead-end and a parking deck that requires a map and a compass to find your car? That’s how Patchwork approach works, isn’t it?
Structures like these embody the phrase “You can’t get there from here,” because they’re the result of organic rather than strategic growth — pieced together through decades of acquisition and one-off construction projects. The result is a facility that may be functional, but clearly not as efficient as it could be.
Many organizations take the same approach to technology — with the same inefficient result when systems aren’t properly integrated. A few examples:
- Your payroll system and 401(k) provider don’t “talk” to each other, so someone ends up re-keying payroll data to track employees’ retirement account contributions.
- Customer data is spread across multiple systems — your CRM, individual Outlook databases, and that spreadsheet maintained by an admin for your holiday card labels.
- Most of your team has been working remotely the past 18 months, but you’re not sure your VPN can support the traffic without causing significant slowdowns.
Inefficiency on its own is an expensive problem. But many companies fail to realize that patchwork systems and disparate vendor relationships perpetuate a far bigger issue — security weaknesses that provide an open invitation to disaster.
Breaking down the silos
The problem is that we do often view technology integration and data security as IT issues that only IT can solve, rather than C-level organizational responsibilities. That’s why so many digital transformation initiatives fail — they place the burden of major decision-making to drive the organization’s future in the hands of people who too often don’t understand the larger picture. And that’s how patchwork approach happens:
- What’s not working now?
- What problems are we looking to solve?
- What data do we need (whether about customers, the competition, or benchmarking issues like turnover or compensation) that we can’t easily access today?
- Where are our vulnerabilities and how do we mitigate the risk of a ransomware attack, data breach or social engineering campaign?
The solution is to approach technology more holistically — as a way to accelerate success across the organization rather than simply a capital investment in software and hardware.
Productivity isn’t a technology issue. Neither is risk mitigation or organizational growth. But you can enhance or constrain it when you poorly integrate systems or there are less-than-knowledgeable IT support relationships.
Start viewing technology as a business imperative
It’s easy to dismiss technology as a necessary evil, and security layers like multifactor authentication (MFA) as an annoying barrier to getting the job done.
But when integrated correctly, systems can still be secure without being burdensome. The solution may be as simple as implementing MFA in conjunction with single sign-on capability so users don’t have to repeat the MFA process every time they start a new application. When you begin to view technology as a higher-level means to achieving business goals rather than a stand-alone function, you’ll see the game-changing value in building and managing efficient, best-fit solutions that prioritize operational security.
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