We all hear the news; bailouts, volatile currency markets, energy prices, etc. It's enough to make a sane person mad. Every morning I get the headlines on my RSS readers, my Kindle downloads the latest edition of Financial Times (it's the only paper worth reading really) and it's always the same; omninous outlooks for the next few years (at least). I was thinking a few weeks ago how IT leaders are going to emerge from this stronger than before. IT leaders must sit down and assess their strategies to determine how they are going to play an even larger role in maximizing opportunities for the business.
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In the big picture of economics and business environments everything is interconnected. As consumers and companies re-evaluate priorities, companies that provide goods and services to them will face ever decreasing demand for their goods and services. What strikes me as a litte odd here is that we are seeing some companies still continuing to spend on IT. They aren't coming to a screeching halt like other companies are. Now I'm not naive to think that it's not happening in other market sectors, but the companies that I engage with are not panicking. What seems to be happening right now is interesting and going completely against what I have always preached; strategic use of technology. But as I talk to people they are really looking at tactical initiatives with some very short-term benefits and quick ROI right now. Which given what is going on these days makes sense.
Squeezing every ounce out of existing resources: Are You Virtualizing?
This economic environment we live in today is driving executives to look long and hard at existing assets and making sure that they are squeezing every single dime out of the infrastructure that they can. Which I think is something we should be doing all along. My question to most of the people I meet these days is "are you virtualizing?" You'd be amazed at the number of responses that I get that say, "well we are looking into it" or just a plain "no". My question back to them is one of two responses; "where are you at in your investigation?" and "why aren't you?". My responses always carry the statement "If you want to try and squeeze every dime out of existing assets, virtualizing can help get this done."
Are you a Strategic Partner to the Business?
I have posted many times in the past that the decision makers in IT need to move themselves out of being seen as just providing commodity services to the business. I know this can be difficult if your IT department is spending most of its time being reactive in putting out fires and implementing those annoying "one-off" solutions that are usually a waste of time and effort. What we in IT should be doing everyday is showing the business that we are a strategic partner. Now a problem we have always had in this area (and I know from personal experience) is that we in IT have a tendency to just speak in technological terms and not business terms. We need to raise the level of conversations in order to be able to map business initiatives to IT projects and infrastructure. This means creating business value and to stop speaking in purely technological jargon. Executives in IT need to partner with the business side to really dig in and understand the underlying business needs and challenges and then deliver solutions in terms of those needs and challenges. What will this accomplish? In a larger sense, IT would probably better withstand any kind of clamp down/retrenchment that comes with any economic downturn. See my post on "Get from IT/Business "alignment" to IT/Business "integration" .
We all know that crises don't last forever. So use this time during this economic downturns to work strategically with your business-side counterparts to streamline your operations and work on strategic initiatives that will spur growth once the clouds part and the sun comes back out.