GUEST COLUMN: Think of the business before the technology

News Jun 02, 2011 City Centre Mirror

Each month, Toronto Business Times solicits opinions from four experts on a question of relevance to the small business community. This month’s question is: Given the rapid growth of technological advances and options, how would you guide a small business owner in determining whether a new technology is right for their business?

Given a revolving door of product releases and all manner of fads, it's a challenge to select an appropriate combination of technologies for a specific business and in equal importance, whether to run the technology internally or to outsource.

To do this, you must look at your business first, not the technology.

Starting from the business' characteristics, rather than from the technology available, questions to ask could be:

How can you reduce the cost of sales or decrease the time it takes to get products to customers?

How can you reduce your long-term purchasing costs from suppliers?

How are your competitors servicing your customers and the historical technology trends in your market?

Are there any dominant client, supplier or market forces that may force your hand in future?

Unless a business is highly specialized - for example an online casino where technology is the core business - in most commercial businesses, technology often accounts for substantial improvements in the areas of cycle time and improved information or process flows.

However, the replacement of older technology with newer systems should not be viewed as a main business objective, or a goal in itself.

Much technology value can be realized by improving information or process flows and access with innovative solutions within existing infrastructures, keeping the need for new technology investments to a moderate level.

Assuming the business direction is sound, the idea is to align technology investments that support the business goals of servicing clients faster or more cheaply, reducing purchasing or supply costs and catering to market forces that may affect your business, by introducing flexibility in business operations.

For example, a small potato farming business, whose central customer is a major retail chain, holds very little bargaining power. If the retailer makes changes to its purchasing processes or technologies, and mandates the newer technologies upon its suppliers, the small business will be faced with a decision: implement the new technologies and processes, or find new customers.

Either scenario would be a substantial undertaking; it could be better to have a pre-planned flexible technology infrastructure in place that allows a rapid response to such demands of the business. Such a flexible infrastructure could consist of combining internally owned technology assets with outsourced non-core technology assets. (See Picture 2 above).

Small businesses unable to achieve economies of scale or scope of processes and operations, due to their size and low levels of complexity and budget, may benefit from outsourcing non-core assets, while selecting technologies that directly and pragmatically support business goals.


Faraz Khan is a director of OCG, a Toronto-based management consulting firm that specializes in the articulation and implementation of Strategic HRM strategy, technology and change.

GUEST COLUMN: Think of the business before the technology

News Jun 02, 2011 City Centre Mirror

Each month, Toronto Business Times solicits opinions from four experts on a question of relevance to the small business community. This month’s question is: Given the rapid growth of technological advances and options, how would you guide a small business owner in determining whether a new technology is right for their business?

Given a revolving door of product releases and all manner of fads, it's a challenge to select an appropriate combination of technologies for a specific business and in equal importance, whether to run the technology internally or to outsource.

To do this, you must look at your business first, not the technology.

Starting from the business' characteristics, rather than from the technology available, questions to ask could be:

Related Content

How can you reduce the cost of sales or decrease the time it takes to get products to customers?

How can you reduce your long-term purchasing costs from suppliers?

How are your competitors servicing your customers and the historical technology trends in your market?

Are there any dominant client, supplier or market forces that may force your hand in future?

Unless a business is highly specialized - for example an online casino where technology is the core business - in most commercial businesses, technology often accounts for substantial improvements in the areas of cycle time and improved information or process flows.

However, the replacement of older technology with newer systems should not be viewed as a main business objective, or a goal in itself.

Much technology value can be realized by improving information or process flows and access with innovative solutions within existing infrastructures, keeping the need for new technology investments to a moderate level.

Assuming the business direction is sound, the idea is to align technology investments that support the business goals of servicing clients faster or more cheaply, reducing purchasing or supply costs and catering to market forces that may affect your business, by introducing flexibility in business operations.

For example, a small potato farming business, whose central customer is a major retail chain, holds very little bargaining power. If the retailer makes changes to its purchasing processes or technologies, and mandates the newer technologies upon its suppliers, the small business will be faced with a decision: implement the new technologies and processes, or find new customers.

Either scenario would be a substantial undertaking; it could be better to have a pre-planned flexible technology infrastructure in place that allows a rapid response to such demands of the business. Such a flexible infrastructure could consist of combining internally owned technology assets with outsourced non-core technology assets. (See Picture 2 above).

Small businesses unable to achieve economies of scale or scope of processes and operations, due to their size and low levels of complexity and budget, may benefit from outsourcing non-core assets, while selecting technologies that directly and pragmatically support business goals.


Faraz Khan is a director of OCG, a Toronto-based management consulting firm that specializes in the articulation and implementation of Strategic HRM strategy, technology and change.

GUEST COLUMN: Think of the business before the technology

News Jun 02, 2011 City Centre Mirror

Each month, Toronto Business Times solicits opinions from four experts on a question of relevance to the small business community. This month’s question is: Given the rapid growth of technological advances and options, how would you guide a small business owner in determining whether a new technology is right for their business?

Given a revolving door of product releases and all manner of fads, it's a challenge to select an appropriate combination of technologies for a specific business and in equal importance, whether to run the technology internally or to outsource.

To do this, you must look at your business first, not the technology.

Starting from the business' characteristics, rather than from the technology available, questions to ask could be:

Related Content

How can you reduce the cost of sales or decrease the time it takes to get products to customers?

How can you reduce your long-term purchasing costs from suppliers?

How are your competitors servicing your customers and the historical technology trends in your market?

Are there any dominant client, supplier or market forces that may force your hand in future?

Unless a business is highly specialized - for example an online casino where technology is the core business - in most commercial businesses, technology often accounts for substantial improvements in the areas of cycle time and improved information or process flows.

However, the replacement of older technology with newer systems should not be viewed as a main business objective, or a goal in itself.

Much technology value can be realized by improving information or process flows and access with innovative solutions within existing infrastructures, keeping the need for new technology investments to a moderate level.

Assuming the business direction is sound, the idea is to align technology investments that support the business goals of servicing clients faster or more cheaply, reducing purchasing or supply costs and catering to market forces that may affect your business, by introducing flexibility in business operations.

For example, a small potato farming business, whose central customer is a major retail chain, holds very little bargaining power. If the retailer makes changes to its purchasing processes or technologies, and mandates the newer technologies upon its suppliers, the small business will be faced with a decision: implement the new technologies and processes, or find new customers.

Either scenario would be a substantial undertaking; it could be better to have a pre-planned flexible technology infrastructure in place that allows a rapid response to such demands of the business. Such a flexible infrastructure could consist of combining internally owned technology assets with outsourced non-core technology assets. (See Picture 2 above).

Small businesses unable to achieve economies of scale or scope of processes and operations, due to their size and low levels of complexity and budget, may benefit from outsourcing non-core assets, while selecting technologies that directly and pragmatically support business goals.


Faraz Khan is a director of OCG, a Toronto-based management consulting firm that specializes in the articulation and implementation of Strategic HRM strategy, technology and change.