Addressing Business Needs vs. Developing Technology Solutions: What’s the Difference?

Addressing Business Needs vs. Developing Technology Solutions: What’s the Difference?

Developing a technology solution is not the same as addressing a business need with technology – these two things are quite different. Developing technology solutions is done every day, but that doesn’t mean all solutions actually address one or more business needs. Here, we’ll examine the question, identify the difference, and explore how a Master of Information Systems Management degree from Ashford can help you with these concepts.

Identifying the Business Need

More often than many technical folks will want to admit, we sometimes let our love of technology drive us to develop a solution in need of a problem to solve. This is not a bad thing, and indeed, that’s exactly what game-changing creative innovation is all about. 

Take for example, Samsung in 2000. The company added a built-in camera to its Korean version of the SCH-V200 cell phone, making it the world’s first mobile phone to have an onboard camera. 

The low-resolution camera could store a maximum of 20 photos, which then needed to be manually off-loaded to a companion application on a PC. Sharp, Samsung’s competitor, produced the J-phone the following year. In 2001, BBC News published a review of the device, and the writer’s insights, as well as the user comments, offer an interesting perspective into the public’s interest in the feature. 

At the time, the camera phone technology was seen as an expensive, unnecessary, why-would-you-want-this gadget on an already pricey mobile device. The notion of a phone with a camera drew numerous raised eyebrows and many negative comments within the industry, primarily because there was no perceived problem or need in the market place for such an element. 

Fast forward to 2019, and it’s almost impossible to purchase a new smartphone without at least one high resolution camera. Today’s integrated smartphone camera is an example of a technology solution developed for a problem no one knew they had. 

While this can work well for driving product innovations and creating market needs, it doesn’t work very well when attempting to solve an existing business problem. In this case, developing technology for the sake of creating it just because it would be awesome rarely solves an existing business problem. 

Solving the Business Problem

To solve a business problem with technology, one needs to fully assess the challenges faced by the business. This is essential in order to provide a solution that actually addresses the issues the business is experiencing. Creating a technological solution that doesn’t solve the problem is a colossal misuse of time, money, and resources. 

Not only is this wasteful but delivering a solution that doesn’t address the problem undermines the relationship between IT and the business. Missteps like this can even give IT a bad reputation for being a poor solution provider. And, who wants to be part of an organization or a department with a bad reputation, right?

To effectively work together, mutual respect between the business and IT are essential for success, and effective communication is the key to this aspect. Delivering a solution that doesn’t address the needs reflects a deep lack of understanding between the two parties. This can generally be traced back to three primary reasons:

  • Inadequate analysis which fails to properly identify the true causes of the problem during the discovery effort
  • Attempting to fix the symptom(s) of the problem instead of addressing the root causes of the problem
  • Poor listening and inquiry skills, and ineffective communication between the stakeholders involved

Knowing the Difference

It takes well-honed analytic abilities and effective communication skills to deliver solutions that do what users expect them to do. These elements are part of the skills that are essential to consistently deliver solutions that effectively address business problems in an organization. 

The Master of Information Systems Management degree program at Ashford can help you develop these critical skills in classes like Systems Analysis and Leadership in Business Systems Development. These are just two of the MIS degree program courses in which the essential skills noted earlier are brought to life through realistic business scenarios and interactive assignments. You’ll discover the power of effective communication combined with the insights you gather from in-depth problem analysis and will be able to practice the techniques as you interact with your peers in classroom activities. These skills, and more, are part of what you’ll examine in the MISM degree program. Ultimately, you will understand the difference between addressing business needs and developing technology solutions.

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Written by Dr. Steph YoungGonzaga, assistant professor in the Forbes School of Business & Technology® at Ashford University.

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