The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Bold use of IT

I've seen a number of notes and articles about it being time for IT leaders to focus on cost cutting... during the economic downturn. In fact, there are whole seminars dedicated to it. That statement is true, but it should always be true (regardless of economic conditions). The same thing could be said about ROI within IT (or the business overall). What should be thought about in a new way is the continued separation of IT from the business. It's all business.

 

Now is the time for those in a business leadership position to understand that this is not a time to be passive and wait out this economic downturn. It is more than just a focus on survival; instead, it can be about advantage and value. Strategic money spent today has more effect when everyone is thinking tactically. I've mentioned before that I believe IT will undergo a shift during this down cycle, and that what we spend money on when we come out of it will be different.

 

Now is the time for organizations to think about how they operate. If they keep operating the same way and merely cut each line item of the budget without rethinking the overall approach, it is simply admitting they're a victim. This is a time to rethink, reprioritize, reengineer, and regenerate. Formally ask: Do all the elements in your application portfolio deliver value to the business? Are the assets utilized as efficiently as they should be? These kinds of activities do take some time and money, but the benefits are long lasting and may even cut costs in the near term.

 

Organizations that understand the value and visibility provided by IT have a greater ability to identify innovative ways to help reduce operational costs, improve their connections with customers, increase communication across and between organizations, and reduce time to market and enterprise response (latency) using collaboration. It is a time to brainstorm ways to reposition businesses for the future. It may be time to realize that there is no other choice. In many industries, businesses are vulnerable. It is a time for leadership.

 

Leaders are always willing to hear about innovative, creative ideas, but you still need to address the basics of ROI and business drivers. Managers, on the other hand, may be willing to focus only on operational excellence issues and cost cutting at times like these. Understand what the motivators are for the organization, look at these drivers and their implications from a different perspective and the impact of your ideas will be felt, now, more than ever.

Comments
Anonymous(anon) | ‎01-19-2009 04:31 AM

I just saw this article in CIO magazine that was reprinted in computer world, covering this same area:

www.cio.com.au/.../most_cios_dinosaurs_heading_career_ice_age

Anonymous(anon) | ‎02-06-2009 12:20 AM

I recall a number of case studies from when I was a marketing undergrad, scenarios where during an economic or industry downturn, some companies responded by cutting marketing budgets while their competition exploited that response by increasing their advertising and marketing budgets. This allowed the latter to come out on the other side of the downturn with a greater market share. Kind of like how some investors fail to perceive a bear market as simply providing different avenues to profit.

Any thoughts as to how an economic downturn might fuel additional IT initiatives, not just for cost-cutting but for gaining competitive advantage?

Anonymous(anon) | ‎02-08-2009 01:30 AM

Yes, I definitely do have some ideas. I did a podcast a week or so back with Michael Lee Stallard on that very topic. I'll post it when its available. I'm also going to talk at the Microsoft Dynamics conference in March in New Orleans on the topic. I'll post information about that as well. I think the agenda should be out on Monday the 9th

Anonymous(anon) | ‎02-19-2009 03:48 AM

This article

www.computerworld.com/.../article.do

about Intel's investments is an example of trying to take advantage of the downturn while the competitors are distracted.

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  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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