22 years ago, Michael E. Gerber wrote a best-selling business book called, The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. The book made the assertion that most small businesses fail because they are run by a “Technician,” someone who knows how to do the technical work involved in the job, but lacks the tangible business skills required to run the business effectively.
Since the E-Myth (Entrepreneurial Myth) was first identified, the landscape of technology and business has dramatically changed. While some of the guidelines in Gerber’s book may be considered outdated today, the distinction he made between “Working in the business” vs. “Working on the business” remains highly relevant. In fact, this distinction has never been more apparent than it is today.
Working Both IN and ON the Business
Before we get into the importance of working both in and on the business, let me explain the distinction between the two terms:
- Working IN the business: Support the end users to get their tasks done. In IT, we would essentially categorize this as break/fix work.
- Working ON the business: Supporting the business by executing on strategy. Typically, the three drivers for working on the business are: 1) Increase revenue 2) Reduce cost 3) Reduce risk.
As anyone in IT will tell you, the “working IN the business” (i.e. the break/fix tasks) tends to consume a large majority of our time. As technology continues to grow in complexity, IT leaders are feeling over-extended by the increasing demands just to keep the lights on, let alone find time to proactively focus on strategic solutions for a more profitable future.
In the past, IT professionals in mid-market businesses had capacity to work both in the business and on the business. However, the diversity of skills required, the need for real-time expertise, and the acceleration in the deployment of new solutions has made the traditional IT service model alone insufficient to support the businesses today. In the digital age, if your IT service model is no longer advancing your business, it’s not just a point of frustration, it’s a serious threat the survival the company.
Do you have all the IT resourced needed to survive in the digital age? Find out by taking our online IT Readiness Evaluation.
“Shifting Left” to Support the Business
To keep pace with business demands on IT, IT organizations need to “shift left.” What this means is they need to move the break/fix work to a trusted managed services partner. In doing so, they open up space to focus more on the value-added initiatives that drive the business forward.
Solving this problem will allow mid-market businesses the ability to better compete, innovate, and differentiation themselves in a technology driven marketplace. Instead of being a cost center, IT needs to be a business enabler.
While some would argue augmenting an internal IT team with an outsourced provider will increase cost, the overall return on investment ends up being much higher for several reasons:
- Specialized skills are required, but you’ll be paying a premium to hire these skillsets in-house when you only need them a fraction of the time.
- If your in-house IT is getting burnt out fighting fires, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to leverage technology to innovate and drive greater revenue for the company.
- Interruption to some or all of the team during the execution of strategy means initiatives are slowed, delayed, or poorly executed – leading to revenue loss and a very frustrated end-user.
Technology is not slowing down, nor is the demand for a knowledgeable and experienced IT managed services provider. Companies should look for a partner who can evolve and adapt with them to deliver top-level recommendations. BDO Digital's award-winning Managed Services team can help organizations develop cost-effective, flexible support options right-sized to fit their needs.
Backed by a team of ITIL-certified subject matter experts, BDO Digital's customized solutions can provide fully outsourced IT services, or complement existing internal teams by “shifting left” to keep up with the business demands in today’s modern workplace.