There's no question anymore that technology must provide a return on investment.
The payback comes in the form of smart tech, a distant cousin to working smarter and a core competency of companies that are here today, here tomorrow.
Does that mean every chair is occupied in the IT department or that a partnership is built with an outsourcing firm? Not necessarily. Business leaders need to look within their company's own four walls for technology management.
One Ohio school manages its information systems like a business, a practice that saved it a quarter million dollars by putting "inside power" into practice.
Robert Agnew is director of Information Technology at Baldwin-Wallace University. He is responsible for more than 2,000 ports, 40 servers and all telecommunications on campus. Agnew says the number of IT jobs being created exceeds the number of people entering the market. The answer to the technology gap may lie with employees knowledgeable about the company and looking to add to their portfolio of skills.
Whether it is a secretary who steps forward or an engineer with very logical thought processes, many employees may be more successful with programs and systems than anyone can predict.
"Those are the people you want to encourage to get further training," Agnew says. "That's an untapped resource."
The Perry School District in Lake County looked in house for the installation of a new technology infrastructure. The Perry High School student-run company Perritech joins the big "T" with the 3 Rs, and students receive a nontraditional education that combines real-world technology with business experience and classroom training.
The student-run company was created in 1998 with a $100,000 grant from the state of Ohio. The original goals included providing practical experience with in-class instruction. The result has been not only surprising but lucrative -- a cost savings of $250,000 to the school district in three scant years.
Perritech employees assisted with the upgrade of the district's technology and act as the help desk for the 1,300 computers used by teachers, students and the administrative staff on campus. One-third of the student population is involved in some aspect of the technology program, and 15 students who have qualified in specific computer certification courses make up Perritech.
The thinking-outside-the-box mentality has Perritech reaching out to local businesses after school and on weekends. Students manage software installations and hardware repair and trouble-shoot systems problems, all at competitive rates, with revenue fed back into the company. How to reach: William Sarvis, (440) 259-9379 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Robert Agnew, (440) 826-2700 or email@example.com
Deborah Garofalo (firstname.lastname@example.org) is associate editor at SBN Magazine.