Become an individual who can straddle business and technology, understanding how technology-based products and solutions can address your organization’s business challenges.
“Understand the Business” is one of the essential 12 behaviors and actions to adopt and practice from Success in the Technology Field that will help you to advance or prepare for a career in technology. The twelve recommendations involve adopting crucial behaviors that apply throughout your career, as well as specific actions you should take at different stages of your career.
Real value is not in the technology-based solutions themselves. The value is in how those solutions improve the underlying business process, product, or service. An individual who can bridge the technology with the business to propose effective technology-based solutions is one of the most valuable employees in an organization. This individual needs creativity and the ability to imagine how technology-based solutions can transform a business process, product, or service.
Understand the Business
As you advance, either in management or as an individual contributor, you should study your organization. If you are a member of a sub-organization (a department) within a larger organization, start with the department. However, you will need to ultimately understand the value creation process at multiple levels—certainly within your department and at least one organization above your department. Take the following steps:
- Articulate your organization’s value—What is the value that your organization provides? Who is the customer? How does the customer use the product or service that creates the value?
- Describe how that value is created and delivered—What specific business processes are executed to create the value? Document the steps in each process, and to the degree you can, determine both who is involved in implementing each step and what systems or other technologies support its execution.
If you have invested in understanding the organization at the level described above, you will have significant insights into its challenges. Furthermore, you will have insights into how the organization can improve by leveraging technology. You may even have proposed approaches regarding how the organization can undergo a digital transformation, re-imagining a business process that can radically and positively impact the organization. How to position and introduce an idea, and who to involve, are critical factors determining whether a good idea to improve a business process, product, or service ever becomes a reality. As technologists, we must be particularly careful in introducing an idea because, typically, the business is not our domain, no matter how much we might work to understand it. On the other hand, do not sit on good ideas, never giving them a chance to be considered.
As a technologist, you should build trust with partners on the business side of the organization. Ultimately, to be considered, an idea for a business process improvement needs to be introduced and sponsored by an executive within the business. Perhaps you have been at your organization for a long time and have the respect of the business executives. Maybe you are a business executive in the organization, with your company providing technology-based products or services. Whatever your situation, building trust through collaboration is key to enabling your idea for improving a business process, product, or service to become a reality.
Rewards come to those who create value. And for us in the technology field, significant value can be created by leveraging technology and technology-based solutions to address business challenges, whether the organization is a private-sector corporation, a government agency, or a non-profit. So as your career evolves, if you can straddle business and technology, understanding how technology-based products and solutions can address your organization’s business challenges, you can create significant value for your organization and yourself. It takes dedicated study to understand the business, and finesse to ensure your ideas can become a reality. Whatever your title, this is a way to become one of the most valued and successful members of any organization.
Success in the Technology Field: A Guide for Advancing Your Career
Success in the Technology Field is a practical “how-to” guide for a career in technology. It presents a holistic model, incorporating skills and behaviors that help you define and attain your career goals, whether you aspire to be an executive, a leading technologist, or a successful product salesperson.