For a science that is built on the perfection, neatness and microscopically accurate functioning of every bit that runs around inside the guts of the silicon nanotransistors, this is quite a statement to make. But I speak from the experience of the user. And not some hands-off user, but someone who put his heart (and lots and lots of precious funds) into getting things speeded up and made more modern by IT deployment.
Today, after 16 years of painstaking but joyful learning, here are my learnings, summarised. (It took me quite a few crores to learn these lessons, and I am glad to share these with you, for free)
- If you are the CEO of an SME, learn to tame your IT excitment impulses.
- Learn to say "NO" to your colleagues excited over an IT deployment opportunity you know for sure will not create any business advantage.
- IT vendors can and will rob you of precious funds, giving no tangible business results in return, unless you make them understand otherwise right from the first meeting.
- What sounds like a killer-ERP for an ICICI Bank, is for them. Not for you. You are small.
- Good IT is costly. Actually, very costly.
- Good IT vendors** are very rare. Maybe, say, 1 in 20.
- Don't easily trust new, very small IT vendors. They have this bad habit of vanishing suddenly from the face of the Earth, after you are midway through a deployment / deal.
- IT that is complex for users, is bad IT.
- Your IT department head should be able to explain every issue in 30 seconds maximum (each).
- Your customers don't care what IT you use. They care what solution they get.
- Post-deployment, IT companies really don't care what happens to their products (software or hardware), unless you lock them into a mutually rewarding long-term relationship.
- IT is not the end, it is just a very approximate tool.
- Every successful IT deployment needs SME's Top Management's total commitment.
* SMEs = Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (a term used frequently in India)
** Good IT vendors = vendors who respect the fact that you as an SME need tangible, solid business results from the IT they deploy inside your company, and who personally take care to ensure end-to-end deployment and take ownership of what may go wrong. As for the rest, they are a bunch of brainless traders, masquerading as "IT" vendors
I must say thanks to Dr Manas Fuloria Director Proton Indore for the various invigorating discussions we had on this topic. Thanks also to my old colleague Varun Gupta sir of PT education who is deftly managing the various aspects of customer-technology linkages for Proton Indore.