Stop! in the name of IT–Wasting my money

(Title to be sung to the tune of The Supremes “Stop! in the name of love”)

I had a meeting this week with a new technology partner that we have just begun working with and the person I was talking to said something very interesting about some of the messaging that they are taking to their customers.

So what was this earth shattering statement?

Well many of you have no doubt heard, as I have, a consistent message over the last 5-10 years from many IT companies “Let me show you how my product helps to save you money” there is of course absolutely nothing wrong with that, however a lot of those concepts are based on doing traditional things more efficiently, nothing wrong with that either.

However the statement that caught my attention and got me thinking was just a small play on that. Instead of saving you money this conversation was all about

Let me show you how I can STOP you WASTING money

I know, that all sounds a bit of semantics, but actually, this is quite an important message, the company I was talking to, had taken an age-old problem and using new thinking looked to turn solving the problem on its head, fixing it and removing a lot of wasted IT spend at the same time.

But who Cares?

Why are we bothered? OK, so silly question, in business as with anything, none of us want to waste money do we….

If we look at the following well-known IT budget stats, then we know why efficient use of our budgets are important…

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These figures show around 84% of standard IT budgets are spent on maintaining the current infrastructure, that’s either keeping its lights on, or expanding it to meet increased needs. The thing is though for all the IT trends of the last 10 years that have promised to save us money, the reality is, that they haven’t made any real impact in the spending cycle above (a friend of mine Matt Watts over at NetApp has done a couple of pieces on this recently, worth a read).

The strange thing about these figures is that over the last 7-8 years they’ve not really changed regardless of all the new technology investments, so what has that IT spend we’ve made actually done?

Well it’s not that it hasn’t had an effect, indeed virtualisation, storage efficiency, automation and orchestration they’ve all made a difference, however the way of the IT world is that over time, those investments we make in new technology, eventually become the norm and those investments then become the commodity part of our infrastructure, or the systems we are using for business continue to grow and continue to need the same large percentage of spend just to keep them going, regardless of what you do.

So how do we break the paradigm?

I mentioned earlier Matt Watts excellent articles on IT spending, he highlights three points that we should look to embrace as part of our strategic IT thinking if we are going to do something that breaks this cycle of IT spending.

1) Build highly efficient and adaptable Infrastructures

Goes without saying of course, in today’s world the ability to react quickly and effectively to changing needs is more apt than ever. Cloud services has been a huge part of this, stuff that scales and deploys with little need to consider the impact of our internal resources, so we can just deliver service as we need it , is something IT has to strive for so it can effectively meet business needs.
2) Embrace Service Providers and Hyperscalers

As i just mentioned, cloud services are a big part of everyone’s future IT strategy, whether we accept it or not, the use of simple services, through to more complex data centre as a service type solutions, the flexibility, scalability, availability and “elasticity” that service providers and hyperscalers provide is the key to smart and cost-effective solutions that will stop us wasting money.

3) Be disruptive with Technology

Maybe the only way we are going to break this cycle is to look for disruptive technology, look at how Apple has changed how we expect to interact with technology, so much so that it is now the norm.

So are you looking for the next Apple, not necessarily, but look for technology that takes a problem or a challenge then looks to turn it on its head and address it in a really smart way.

How about our confident friends?

I’m sure you want to know, did the guys with the brave boast tick the three points above. They certainly seem like they did, they took a very old problem (how to share files over multiple sites with a true global file system), used efficient technology (clever small controllers on site locations), embraced service providers (use very low-cost cloud based object stores to ensure only a single and authoritative copy of the data exists) and used disruptive technology (using patented global file locking technology to fix the problem of shared files in multiple sites).

Potentially then a great fit for those who want to change that spending paradigm, as we continue to develop IT strategies and solutions to meet the challenges that the world presents to us as IT professionals, it’s going to be increasingly important that we look at technology that helps IT do things differently, to innovate and to solve complex problems by exploiting new technology and trends.

Good luck and see how you can remove waste and add innovation to your IT strategy.

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