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Facing Your Fears
I meet with school districts throughout the country discussing their goals for technology. It’s not difficult to help them see the advantages of outsourcing technology, but fear of the unknown is often a stumbling block many can’t overcome. One of the greatest fears is the issue of control. Many districts feel that going to an outsourcing solution means they are giving up control of their technology, something crucial for learning, teaching, and daily operations. Let’s be frank. You are not in control of technology now! Sure, you have control over certain aspects of technology, but you’re really not in control, despite your best efforts, because you lack resources, expertise, and focus.
Let me give you a comparison that might help illustrate my point. I know a fair amount about investing. Years ago, I created a financial plan, invested my money in accordance with that plan, and hoped for the best. The plan made good sense to me, and I was dedicated to keeping up with it. I monitored the results of the plan, and I seemed to be moving forward at a reasonable rate. There were several problems with this approach; however. First, I’m not a financial expert. I’m pretty savvy when it comes to money, but my financial future was at stake, and I needed a professional, with expertise and experience to create a professional plan for me. When I finally hired a financial adviser, he showed me the many errors in my plan. I’d made too many assumptions based on my level of expertise. I lacked the experience necessary to predict trends or anticipate problems. I lost money when I shouldn't have, and missed opportunities to make money when they presented themselves. I also didn't have enough time to manage the plan on a daily basis – I was too busy with work and life to make managing my portfolio a priority for me.
Now consider your district’s technology in the same manner. If you think you can control what is going to happen in the technology arena, you’re kidding yourself. Think back just a couple of years when we were all talking about netbooks (mini-laptops) as a cost effective way of replacing full-sized laptops. They were all the rage. Two years later, we’re talking about iPads, Chrome Books, Kindles, and wireless infrastructures. In the past 3 – 5 years, many new schools have opened with excellent wired networks, but without a viable wireless infrastructure to support the needs of their staff and students today. The fact is, you’re not in control of technology.
Likewise, you’re not an expert in technology. You may be tech savvy, or you may have a tech savvy IT department, but savvy is no replacement true industry expertise. Do you want your financial adviser to be “savvy” with money or be an expert? Even if you or your team is tech savvy, do you, or they, have time to manage all of the many parts of your tech plan effectively, or do you find yourself struggling to keep up with the plan? Would you want your financial adviser to make decisions about your money after the market conditions change, or do you want someone with the experience necessary to predict change and position you to benefit from it?
Finally, what does your technology plan look like? It’s likely to focus on the most important matters – replacement of equipment, impact on students, etc., but that’s tantamount to creating a financial plan that says, “I will have enough to retire on one day, and I believe I’ll need ‘X’ amount to do so.” That’s a goal, not a strategy. And since you can’t control technology trends, since you’re not an expert in technology, since you don’t have industry experience, and since technology is not your primary focus day-to-day, is your plan really adequate?
If fear of giving up control is what keeps you from looking at outsourcing your IT, ask yourself, “am I really in control of technology now?” If not, it’s important to find the right organization to manage all aspects of your district’s technology, an organization that has the expertise, experience, and resources to manage your plan – ultimately giving you REAL control.
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