Quick question - How do you view technology? What I mean by this is, how do you view your spending on it? Is it a cost center or an opportunity? I've asked this question a number of times to a number of different groups and the response is sometimes almost humorous. "Of course I view it as an opportunity. I just wish it didn't cost so much." What? Which is it? Are you an investor or a cost cutter? I really think it comes down to a character trait. It can be learned, but often times it's just who you are.
Ok. So I know we're pretty much past the point where people are fighting the need to use computers (although, can you say "dial up"?). But there are still many businesses who look at technology as a necessary evil - "I guess we have to use computers. But, darned if I'm going to upgrade my fine Windows 98 machines!" Something to think about - what is the time of your staff worth? If you could improve productivity by 5 minutes per employee per hour, would you? Consider this: at $20/hour for a 20 person office, this would be worth nearly $70,000 per year! Or, if your server was down for 2 days, under this same scenario it would cost $6,400 in lost productivity - not including the fees to restore it which could double this!
The true innovators are the business owners who look at technology as a way of leveraging and scaling what they have to offer. These are the ones who are going to propel their businesses to another level. They're not the ones who are on the sidelines being passed by. They're the ones cutting their own path and defining what their competitors need to do just to follow and keep up with them.
This can be done in a number of ways, but the basic foundation of this comes back to the "mindset". How do these innovators get this mindset? How do they come to look at technology as a friend and not a foe? Besides having a successful track record backing up their intuition of spending money to make money, often times it takes a certain ability to move forward on a hunch. "I know if I spend to get a new server, our productivity will improve ten-fold." or "I know we need to automate our HR Performance System to improve our retention." They're thinking ROI, but often times it may not be easily quantifiable.
From my experience, another component to this mindset falls under "satisfaction". That is, true innovators aren't satisfied with what they've completed. They're always looking for more ways to improve things. When a project is completed, they're thinking, "ok, now what else can we improve?" This definitely isn't looking at technology as a cost center.
So, now, can you honestly answer the question - which are you? A cost cutter or an innovator? But more importantly - which do you want to be? It's up to you...