“We have a technology problem.” Words I often hear from a client or potential client. While that might be a valid concern, most of the time it’s not the technology problem that’s causing the issue, but a communication one. My company, The A Group, has a technology division where we have developed a sophisticated platform for media-rich tools as well as a powerful and easy-to-use content management system. While I’m happy to sell our products to anyone who needs faster, easier, and overall better technology, I’m always careful to make sure people understand the it’s the communication strategy that drives the technology and not the other way around.
This might sound simplistic to some, but I can tell you from personal experience that many churches, businesses, and not-for-profits believe that a shiny new website, a powerful digital media tool, or an iPhone app will cure their communication problems. They won’t.
What usually happen in the absence of a communication strategy is that the new technology gets misused, or worse, underused because there’s no plan or a champion who understands how to use it. So before spending money on a new website or technology, here are 3 questions you should ask:
What do I want this thing do to? Sell products? Gather leads? Create community? Share media? You need to have a clear vision for your new website or project. Remember, however, that the more things any one system is designed to do, the more complex and potentially less effective it becomes. But regardless, you must answer what’s the “win” for the site.
Who will be the champion for this project? I’m not talking about a technical position here. This is not a question about technology, but about strategy. Who understands the DNA of the organization to make sure this initiative will look, feel, and work like it should. In my experience when IT (information technology) drives the project, development focus on platforms or the latest development technique and not on the end-user and their experience, where it should begin and end.
What’s our sustainability plan? Once a project goes live, whether it’s a site or an app, it’s only the beginning. Who are the people responsible for content? What’s the social media elements of the site and who’s going to monitor them? Oftentimes when clients create a media-rich environment and become successful at attracting high traffic, they have to deal with unplanned bandwidth costs. (Think of bandwidth as virtual pipes in and out of your website. The more users you have the bigger the pipes have to be.) If your vision is to give your content for free, that’s great, but you need to figure out a way to pay for it.
What has been your experience with technology in the workplace? What have you learned?