The Tyranny of Tech: Can your Business Work Unplugged?

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by Sven Larsen

We spend quite a bit of time on Pixels & Pills talking about the benefits of technology. And why not? From e-prescribing to the rise of social media as a marketing tool and digital tools for salespeople, technology has driven an unprecedented wave of productivity, economic growth and improvement in our quality of life.

So what happens when it goes off the rails?

As anyone with a home computer knows, things happen. Power goes out in the middle of an important project. Printers run out of ink. Hard drives die. And sometimes, files just disappear. And thats just at home what happens when a days productivity for the sales team is at risk, or a multi-million dollar marketing launch? Or, for the doctor moving to electronic health records, what happens when he or she cant get to a patients record?

If a huge amount of our personal livelihood and business success relies on electrons flying around on copper and silicon, then theres good news as well: Modern offices, enterprises and medical technologies are, on the whole, very reliable and robust. Still, its important to have a plan for dealing with unexpected downtime:

One-channel initiatives involve more risk: Got a big marketing pushed planned for Facebook? Then youre completely beholden to Facebooks ability to stay up and running on the date and time you need it. Facebook is pretty good at maintaining high availability, but neither they nor any other big online site is perfect. Plan campaigns in such a way that one channels temporary downtime wont derail a whole campaign.

Revenue drivers in the organization need a plan for technology downtime. At the enterprise level, this means that the chief technology officer or someone similar has a strategic plan in place for business continuity. But the same principle applies at the division, department and team level. Thought exercise: How productive would your sales team be if their Blackberries were out for a day or the CRM system went down unexpectedly? The answer shouldnt be: “Theyd be dead in the water.

Cross-training means tech is less of an issue. Whether the team is in sales, marketing, administration or elsewhere, technology tends to make specialists out of all of us something thats possible because it enhances productivity – meaning, a single specialist knowledge worker can handle the work that may, in the past, have taken a whole team of people to do. While theres no arguing that this specialization drives results, it also means that the absence of enabling technology leaves workers more stranded than in the past. Cross-training can be as simple as making sure your social media specialist also knows how to assist with traditional offline marketing tasks, or your sales assistants know how to assist with social-media responses small steps to keep productivity up when part of the tech infrastructure goes down.

We think of ourselves as living in an always-on world, but the reality is more like “always on ¢‚Ǩ¬¶ except when trouble strikes. Are you prepared?

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2 Responses to The Tyranny of Tech: Can your Business Work Unplugged?

  1. Jason Boies says:

    Interesting post as usual, gang.

    My smartphone died on me the other night and I suddenly felt like Tom Hanks in Castaway.

    The point about one channel campaigns is a good one. You’re pretty much at the whim of that platform’s policies and procedures, which can change at a moment’s notice.

    Cheers!

    Jason Boies
    Radian6 Community Team
    @Radian6

  2. Thanks for the comment, Jason!

    I have the same feeling when my iPhone dies… lost and panicked. That might be a sign of a bigger personal problem, though! 😉