Friday, August 3, 2012

Time is Love

Many of you are probably wondering why I would title a blog, "Time is Love".  I heard it on the radio the other day when I was trying to get a little closer to my country (music) roots.  While I can't remember the specific lyrics, the title really stuck with me. 

There are many things in life that we hold as precious.  To some it's money, others titles - essentially take your pick.  But I can name one thing, echoed by the song, that is finite for everyone: time.  Each of us is born with only a finite amount of minutes in our time bank.  No matter what you do, the clock is always ticking.  Oh, by all means exercise, eat right, drink lots of water and take your vitamins.  Those things will make you healthy but won't add a single second to your life.  They may prevent you from losing time but won't give you any new net "tiempo".

So what does all of this have to do with IT or even business?  The answer is obvious.  Everybody has more to do each day than time to get it done.  Some of you are going to argue that you truly have nothing to do at all but that's just denial (Slackers!).  With this in mind the greatest advances in science over the past 20 years have been in areas of information technology.  Yes, automation is a subset of IT.  The worker of today, at least in the 1st world, is several orders of magnitude more productive than a worker of the 1960s, 70s, or 80s.  The answer as to "why" this is the case can be found in the proliferation of technology.  In 1990, no-one really had a cell phone, let alone a laptop.  Now every part of our lives is automated in some way.  We simply rely a lot more on technology to take away the drudgery of letter writing, copying, exchanging quotes & invoices, even driving.

The challenge to us as IT leaders is to begin to get granular on how we select tools and match them to strategic company direction.  Here are some questions that we should always ask ourselves:
  • In 2012 and forward, are we looking to shave hours, minutes, or seconds off business process execution with the technology we are dispensing?  In other words, does a cool new laptop that weighs 2lbs and takes 75 seconds to boot up help a salesperson close a deal more effectively than a tablet that powers up instantly?
  • Should I undertake a project that takes six months to deliver when business strategy varies by quarter?
  • Does my technology environment allow my customers (the old term is "users") to work when and where they are or am I forcing them to be slaved to the office?
  • Can I envision the future of IT as a collection of services or am I locked into a need to own/touch/see everything?  (Every piece of hardware you own requires, like a caged lion, time and attention in order to function.
    • Could I actually learn to be comfortable when/if I never physically interacted with hardware at all?
The list of questions could be tuned in innumerable ways depending upon the people and situation.  But the point I'm making is that we must be Great, not just "Good" (thanks Jim Collins). The way we accomplish that is to give back our customers every single second of time we can, every day and in every way.  Rather than being afraid of virtualization, mobility, and end-user empowerment try embracing each concept.  Of course we must be mindful of dollars, people, strategy, and the like.  But Time truly is Love. 

If you want to be loved by your customers, give them back their time.  They'll love you for it.

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