I posted a question on our Facebook page about why most Nigerian businesses, especially SMEs, seem to not profit from the added advantages ICT brings into their businesses. This is why I’m writing this pretty short blog post. I’ve had a few conversations with business owners, all SME business owners and I’ve come to understand that most of them know the advantages ICT brings into their businesses and are truly excited about the prospect of it. But every time they attempt at using ICT in their businesses and of course hope in return for the added advantages, like a little kid who gets disappointed every time by dad’s promises; they also get very disappointed by ICT’s promises.
One of the conversations I had was with a store manager who was lamenting to me about how his boss was lamenting to him about how she had spent so much on ICT with the hope of getting her returns on the investment and a fair amount of competitive advantage from it but every time she invests, she never seems to get her returns. Even more interestingly, I was speaking with this store manager trying to convince him to convince his boss to let him come to one of our events we were about to hold, titled, ‘Data-driven Decision Making’. I say even more interestingly because I’m here trying to convince them to attend our event where we’ll tell them how much added advantage they can get by introducing ICT into their business with the hope of also sharing this truth with them regarding GIGO and ICT in Business. This was where I really got to know the major problem with SMEs and their adventures with ICT; I say it’s an adventure because they seem to just jump into with without any real purpose for it but to ‘fulfill all righteousness‘. This problem was Process Optimization!
You see, the problem most times with these businesses is not that ICT’s promises for added advantage to your business is a ‘fugazi’ or always a disappointment. The problem is with your processes – business processes. How efficient are your processes even without ICT, especially without ICT? Do you always have a long waiting time in attending to your customers’ needs? Or do you always spend hours looking for a product on the shelf? Or how is your shelf restocking process like? All these, without any ICT help.
I remember in my very first computer class in primary school, we were taught that one major attribute of a computer system is GIGO (i.e garbage-in-garbage-out). Basically, for those of us who have forgotten what GIGO means, it means a computer system, in simple terms, is just a box that gives you in return whatever you put in it. Hence, the term GIGO – if you put garbage in your system, your system gives you garbage.
This same method applies to ICT in business. The effectiveness of your business processes will determine the added advantage ICT brings to your business. If your business processes are efficient, ICT will make them more efficient. Likewise, if your business processes are garbage, ICT will make them more garbage.
The point here is this: why most businesses do not profit from the added advantages ICT has is because their business processes are either not good or very bad. Before making any investments into ICT in your business, look inwards to which business processes you need that ICT system to make better and polish it up before making the investment. Optimize your processes. Process optimization simply means just making your business processes,with or without ICT more efficient and effective – reducing waste and increasing productivity.
We can learn a thing or two from Dilbert.
Most times we act this way when investing in ICT. We say “if we invest so much in ICT, we can forget about how bad our processes are“.
ICT is a supporting system to your business, not the main system. Except of course, ICT is your main business. Many people get this mixed up and try to make ICT the main business whereas it should not, only in exceptions where your company is looking to include ICT as part of your business. In any other case, ICT is the supporting system! It supports your business processes; makes them more efficient and effective. ICT helps your staff and should not always replace your staff!
If you still find yourself in this situation where you’ve invested a good amount of money on ICT but it hasn’t really given you the returns and added advantage you expected from the investment. Please contact us via the contact page and we’ll get back to you asap. It’s not always the processes that cause this misfortune but most times it is and we can help you regardless of the cause of it.
You can also contact us regarding questions about any other ICT in Business related problems.
We are Ya’ats Advisory Services and we’re here to bring customer satisfaction your way.