Having IT Both Ways, You Bastards

Tech professionals are now expected to both cut costs and increase revenue. Here’s how to cope with the schizophrenia.
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We find ourselves in a conundrum: just as technology hands us some powerful new opportunities, the financial markets constrain our ability to exploit them.

What to do?

Have IT both ways.

Here’s the short list of how to exploit the trends defining the tech industry in 2009 – and beyond – and how to convince skeptics that the money will really be well spent.

(I will turn my attention to the bastards who created all these skeptics after vetting the short list of save money/make money/exploit technology opportunities.)

Save Money Today & Make Money Tomorrow

The marching orders today are to cut technology costs, but longer-term the orders will be about cutting costs and generating revenue. There will be clear and consistent pressure placed on technology organizations to perform as both cost centers and profit centers.

Prepare for the schizophrenia. Do not throw the baby (profit center) out with the bath water (cost management). Assign someone to whisper in your ear every time you announce that you found another X% to cut that the world does not turn on cost management alone, that this too shall pass, and we’ll once again turn to technology to enable profitable growth.

That said, of course, there will always be pressure to reduce technology costs. So get used to being all things to all people – it’s a permanent state.

Stop Worrying About Devices That Really Don’t Matter

It doesn’t matter how we get to networks, data and applications, only how we get there securely and ubiquitously. We buy one device brand instead of another because we get a better deal, not because we think there are significant performance or reliability differences. There aren’t.

Interoperability is almost complete. Soon it won’t matter what device is used to access networks, data and all forms of media. All content is mobile; all devices are (soon to be) interoperable. Don’t build or buy anything that only works in one place (unless you like wearing tool belts). You can save money here – and make money by increasing the productivity of your clients.

You should also segment your clients into categories that match them to the devices they actually need – and those they don’t. Interoperability means that one size no longer needs to fit all.


Only organizations that believe that they must absolutely, positively own their data, applications and infrastructure will persist with the buy/install/develop/ customize/support process. Just about everyone else will rent applications over the Web.

The software-as-a-service (SaaS) model will enable the trend, since we’ll not only be able to rent standard application packages but we’ll also be able to customize applications over the Web. You can also rent servers from Amazon, Yahoo or EMC – among others – for less than a dollar a day. You can rent just about anything from a growing number of vendors. Pilot some of these alternative hardware delivery models against a set of cost/benefit metrics.

What the hell are you waiting for?

Open Source is Safe, Honestly

Open source software is not competition to proprietary software, it augments it; in fact, within a few years it will begin to replace significant stacks of proprietary software. Will we see the increased adoption of open source desktop software (to compete with MS Office) and even Linux on the desktop? We will see the widespread adoption of open source CRM and data base applications? Yes and yes.

The major proprietary software vendors will reduce their prices to avert the increased adoption of open source solutions. It remains to be seen how aggressively they fight, but they have to make some tough decisions here – and soon. Just download Open Office and be done with it (or StarOffice, or GoogleApps or even Symphony).

There’s Gold in Them There Processes

Buy, rent or activate an existing business process modeling (BPM) application at your company. Many of you already have access to a BPM module through our larger ERP platforms. There are lots of off-the-shelf packages as well.

It makes sense to invest in process modeling training and internal process consulting; BPM expertise should become core to your company. There’s leverage (and gold) in designing, simulating, tweaking and implementing alternative business processes.

Next Page: Loosen Up

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Tags: open source, Linux, cloud computing, services, SaaS

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