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How can we allow IT to become a roadblock?

If you’re reading this blog post, you’re doing it on a computer, phone or tablet.

It’s obvious to you and me that this is how we communicate, do a lot of our shopping, check menus, phone numbers, bank transactions and more. And many times it works perfectly and seamlessly.

But then we step into work…and it wasn’t as obvious that it worked as smoothly anymore.

The report, Willingness to choose health and care, released in mid-June, addresses the importance of developing, introducing and training in new technologies to ensure the care of those in need. And it’s not just in that business, it’s in all businesses.

All of a sudden, you’re manually entering information into a system. This despite the fact that the same information has just been filled in by the “customer” via an online form. Or you can make a time report in an Excel sheet. Only for someone else to then do further hand-painting so that it can become an invoice, report or whatever.

We sit and save information from one system and then send it by email to someone else who enters it into another system. We store information in our own email inboxes or on our own computers.

Not to mention all the information that resides in varying degrees of organization on G:, V:, or whatever it may be called.

Many cases are not followed up automatically, nor are many decisions taken automatically. The potential is enormous, but the take-up rate is unfortunately far too low.

I detect two challenges in this work:

The use of too closed systems – which I describe more below.
The unwillingness of the IT department to think in terms of benefits for the customer and the business instead of their own department – which I will address in the next weekly newsletter.

Use of closed systems means that we allow ourselves to use systems where the provider is not willing to open up their system so that it can be accessed from other systems.

I meet businesses on a daily basis that have system providers who unfortunately are so afraid and protective of their system that they don’t want to cooperate. They would selfishly rather see their customers become even more dependent on them and even more locked in. Maybe you recognize yourself?

As I work a lot with different cloud solutions that have emerged in the last 10 years, I see that these vendors have a very different approach. They know what they are good at, and they also know that there are others who are good at something else.

Then you open up the systems with clear APIs (Application Programming Interface). It is an open interface that others can use. This allows you to call and be called from other systems. Data can flow between systems to provide the best possible value to the user and their business.

But for many of our system suppliers, whose minds are still in the 90s, empire building is the order of the day. You want to be in control of everything. They want their own system to be expanded with even more functionality. You don’t open up to someone else, because then you think you might lose control of the customers, that is, you and your business.

You put yourself first and downplay what would actually be good for you and your business.

Instead of letting someone else, who is an expert in something, build a smart solution now, you think in a different way.

They say “sure we can develop that solution, we’ll put it in our development queue”. And there it stays… for a few years. You have development cycles hampered by too few resources and constant clashes of priorities with everything else you could think of doing.

Do you recognize yourself? Do you have some things you would like to get done, but it takes forever to get answers? It’s a bit like a black hole.

Their system and mindset is akin to an amoeba, which wants to float out over your business to take the whole thing itself. And all at the speed of pouring a pot of goo on the table. It’s slow going! It sells the idea that it is better to have one big all-encompassing system. This is in contrast to the plethora of smaller systems that could work together.

But we in the public sector have put ourselves in this situation. Firstly, we have been too bad a client that we have failed to set the requirements for transparency. This has allowed these suppliers to grow and gain a virtual monopoly in their field. It is not uncommon for suppliers to boast that they have 80-90% of all Swedish municipalities as customers.

For me, this is not a feather in my cap, but a clear warning flag. Stay away – run as fast as you can!

Instead, find out who the other 10-20% are and talk to them about how they think. Then set requirements for transparency and collaboration in the next procurement you make, regardless of the system support.

So, everyone talks about digitisation, but when it comes to implementing it in the business, it often grinds to a halt, takes an infinite amount of time and is very costly.

I know organisations that have been waiting for business system integrations for years. Having worked with system integrations myself, I know that if the will was there, these system integrations would have been done in a week or two.

Now, as I said, years have gone by and no one has even started working on the issue because they are not interested and blame it on one thing or another. All the while, the business is missing out on the benefits these system integrations would bring.

Much thanks to the reluctance of existing providers to leave systems open and to allow others to come up with smart solutions that complement their own system. Solutions that these others are experts in, in contrast to the regular system provider.

I’ll return to this topic in next week’s newsletter and talk more about the IT department as a brake.

Until then, I wish you a fantastic week.

Sunny greetings,