"'Business Technology (BT)', what is that?"
BT means you start with the business challenge or the business initiative first, and then find the right technology that will enable the right solution. It__ encompasses everything from custom applications and "Agile" software development methodologies to an overall perspective on the utility of technology in identifying and solving business problems. To steal a phrase from our good friends at Forrester, think of BT as “IT-enabled business change.”
"What's that actually mean?"
You stop buying technology for technology's sake, automatically upgrading to version 2.2 or 4.9, and ingnoring tech trends (cloud enablement, open source innovations). Instead you start by indentifying the real-life business changes that need to be made, and then you identify the technology -- and technology partners -- that will help enact that specific change.
"Why should I care?"
Burning Money. Because you burn money every time your customers or employees or your agency clients don’t use the app or new software you bought for them.
Long-term Savings. There are significant cost-savings and revenue generating opportunities with BT-driven open-source and mobile solutions, as well as cloud solutions like Azure and Joyent.
Employee and/or Customer Love. When technology pinpointedly address employee or customer needs, and doesn't bog down users with unnecessary features, love (or at least genuine appreciation) emerges.
"Now that I care, what's a good example of BT in action?"
Here in Charlotte, SPX has led a BT-charge by institutioanlizing an innovation council that resulted from the CEO's mandate. Similarly, Wal-Mart and Nordstrom are identifying market opportunities and solving customer problems with internal innovation labs.
Here at Skookum, we were recently approached by an enterprise education-focused client whose non-digital core business means they risked obsoltism within five years. Outlining the fundamentals of their business and the myriad challenges they face in keeping pace with technology for product delivery, they asked us "how can software help?" We're currently in the throes of revoltionizing their business with an assembly of open-source custom applications that will push their decades-old business into the 21st century.
"How can I start to talk about it in my organization?"
Step #1. Go to your team. If you’re a CIO, talk to your peers in sales, marketing, HR, finance. If you’re an agency head, ask your clients to bring in cross-funcitonal heads at the next meeting. If you’re the CEO, find that "intrapreneur" who keeps cornering you in the elevator with crazy ideas, and install him/her as the co-leader of an internal innovation council. You need to institutionalize the idea that future technology investments are meant to address needed business-changes, and that you want to hear what needs to be changed.
Then identify either: 1) lingering business problems; or 2) new ways to empower your team. Ask two questions: “In a perfect world, how would this work better?” and “Could technology do that?” Not, “Could IBM software do that?” Could any software make this better?
Think outside of the traditional vendor box. Agile, bleeding-edge shops like Skookum have experience across the enterprise, startup, and agency worlds. Skookum is a Microsoft Azure circle partner, and we’re damn proud of it. We’re Forrester vendor partners, and rub elbows with SAP and IBM folks all the time; and we enjoy that too. But there are things that we can do that nobody else in the world can do.
"What are some other BT-focused resources?"
"What if I need help, right away?"