Aligning Culture & Technology In The Workplace

I’m all for culture in the workplace. It’s an integral part of what gives a company its identity. It’s used to make the environment more engaging for staff and an ingrained sociable culture can attract talent. It promotes the companies ideals which are part and parcel of the strategic vision which in turn helps drive the mission and goals of the company.

There is clear value in establishing and nurturing culture in any organization. The benefits far outweigh the negatives and this much is obvious. The truth is that it’s a wild, powerful and unpredictable animal that can be an effective self-marketing tool if it is managed properly. However, it can also be its own worst enemy. A companies culture must reflect the vision of the organization, be completely backed by its leaders and supported by the technology that empowers it. If you are pushing for a culture that you want to replicate from larger more successful organization, then you need to be realistic about what you can deliver on from a financial point of view when trying to convey that vision. The level of culture has to be met in equal parts by the technology that embraces it. Too much misalignment on either side will lead to an unfocused vision and loss of meaning behind the culture.

Opening the door to the concept of “ideals to work by” means getting staff to accept the culture of the company through either a direct or indirect association of their own personal ideals and values. From a technical perspective, business need to create environments that empowers staff by trusting them with the resources of the infrastructure, eliminating anything that could create a bottleneck or the hamper ability to perform ones job functions in the workplace. Unfortunately, as everyone knows, convenience and empowerment cost money and that is where you find the most shortfall when trying to live up to the expectations a culture creates.

Most businesses, whilst still trying to maintain a progressive culture, will hold off on the operational and capital expenditure of technology by trying to maximize the infrastructure that’s already established.  This is a logical and reasonable decision up until the point in time that it’s not. At some stage everyone involved has to be realistic about how long they expect to delay the inevitable cost of expansion. Because the scale and demands of infrastructure grow significantly over time even if the physical staff count doesn’t. How you ask? Over time most networks will grow in complexity, people generally become more familiar with pushing the limits of available IT resources and you may end up with more than 3 times the devices you started off with on your network. Dependent on how tolerable the regulations of the organization are around BYOD.

The fact is this…Demand will always exceed capacity no matter how fast you adapt. You will always have to deal with a Trifecta of risks that need to be managed. i.e. Cost VS. Performance VS. Stability. If you are prepared to absorb significant cost then you will get stability and performance. If you are tight on your budget then you will have to realistically accept a loss of either stability or performance. Inevitably you will more than likely have to sacrifice one of the 3 attributes irrespective of the situation. The reality is that you cannot have your cake and eat it without investing a reasonable sum of money in the right technology over time. Sure you could regulate usage and go the corporate route which would mean you could reduce cost whilst still having some degree of stability and performance. But is that something you would be prepared to do relative to the expectation of the employees?

What it comes down to is gaining an understanding of how much of an impact technology plays in empowering the culture a business develops. Think long and hard about what the goals of the culture are, what expectations will be created as a direct result and consider if there is sufficient budget over a relatively short period of time to financially back the empowerment of these values through the alignment of technology. Form an IT strategy around what the business wants the culture to be, plan out the staged costs over time and embrace the dependency.

It’s a difficult balance to achieve but you need to put your money where your mouth is because nothing is worse than being inspired by the culture of an organization yet being hampered by the inefficiencies of the tools you are given to do your job. Thus “quoting” the culture and “being” the culture are two difference things. Rather be the culture, invest in the technology that empowers it and see the payoff in the long run.

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