They're Coming for Your Business - Quick, Hide the Customers...
Gartner, a leading IT Research Firm reports that industry surveys show IT spending will increase significantly in 2013 and 2014 - story link here. Upshot of the survey is that 390 CEO's of $250m+ companies plan to drive growth through greater IT spending. Some 78% reporting plans to increase IT dollars for mobile, cloud, social or other IT initiatives. All good numbers for the industry and the big question for you is - with the big guys aiming for your market share with new whiz bang technology, what are you doing to counter? And 'we don't have the budget for that' isn't an answer.... unless the question is 'why did you leave your last job?'
Serious Analysis - No surprises here. When you look at the unemployment picture, it's obvious many companies are holding labor costs down - could be due to unknown Obamacare cost or just general economic uncertainty - but with the Dow Jones soaring, companies are sitting on piles of cash and are hiring averse... so IT projects look really good - How can we do more with our customers without adding employees and labor costs? Mobile means we can reach them where they are...Managed Cloud means we can add programs, software and infrastructure without hiring half a dozen server guys to keep everything configured and running. Social means we can hold top-of-mind awareness without hiring customer service reps...Folks, these are all economically driven motives, and while the SMB market may not be able to throw millions at IT, there ARE cost effective ways to compete - let's talk about them at our next meeting.
Big Data is coming...and how you handle it is already here! In a blogpost on CIO Journal, Kirk Larson, CIO of Children's Hospital in California talks about some of the data challenges facing healthcare organizations...your requirements may vary - but I've spent the last week with customers dealing with these same issues. We're seeing some really innovative solutions using Microsoft Office 365, Sharepoint 2013 and Azure Cloud Storage. We've replaced some pretty cost-intensive document managment software, saved some annual maintenance on backup systems, and made the whole thing pay for itself within 18 months.
Serious Analysis - Document Management systems have been notoriously expensive and labor intensive - and it's just data! Of course it has to be data you can find - but as Cloud, Big Data and Sharepoint search engines get better, the reasons to invest millions in Document Management keep dropping.
It's a post PC world as PC's post another record drop in global shipments
Market research firm IDC reports PC shipments dropped 14% in Q1 - almost double analysts projections. Reporting in ZDNet, the article goes on to list the winners and losers in PC manufacturing - which is uniformly bad for everyone except Lenovo - the only 'premium' PC brand, trading on the IBM quality differential for several years now. Other factors include consumer reliance on smartphones and tablets (the blog's official wife's ongoing attraction to an iPad mini since Christmas attests to both the product attractiveness and the market leading analysis and buying habits of your humble correspondent.)
But here comes the interesting part.
Microsoft's new Windows 8 was expected to be the savior of the PC industry, with features and compu-wonderfulness galore, companies would be rushing orders for all new hardware just to be able to run Windows 8 - but that never happened. It's estimated less than 3% of the Enterprise customers have adopted Win8 - and here comes this bit of news: Windows XP, that powerhouse OS from back in 2001 will no longer be supported in the fall of this year. In a post from ZDNet's UK Editor estimated that 40% of the Enterprise desktops in the UK are still running XP. Kind of mind boggling - so there's 3% adoption to Win8, and 15-times that many users will be forced to upgrade..of course they can move to Win7 but still...odd days ahead for the technology-laggards in the marketplace.
Among companies running large fleets of PC's, The Wall Street Journal's CIO Journal reports most CIO's surveyed are opting to stay with Win7 - noting two interesting trends - First, there's no value apparent in switching to Win8. There's no compelling reason to switch, it's not saving money, nor more secure, and there's the expense of training involved - and I preach this and preach this til I'm blue in the face to ALL my clients - don't start an IT project - any IT project - until you're crystal clear on the expected ROI - be able to answer the question EXACTLY how much will this project (save/eliminate/gain/return) for us? Then start the project. Probably safe to say the Win8 team never asked my opinion prior to the design phase. One other interesting note, half the users at iCrossing are requesting Macs instead of PC's - yes it's a digital marketing company, but now that iPhones and iPads have broken the barrier, it's BYOD - and we better be ready for it.
(also - in the quest for balance, check out a positive spin on Win8 here.)
Serious Analysis - Microsoft has had some tremendous successes and has launched some great technology recently - while all the press is on Windows 8 - there's a revolution afoot. Office 365, Sharepoint 2013, Azure Cloud Services are quietly transforming the productivity minded office environment. Yes, it does take some consulting hours to configure, and there's tremendous opportunity to deploy advanced development to add additional functionality - but it's the best suite of business software in a generation for those who take the time to do it right. You can find hundreds of articles like this one in TechRepublic or you can be like my clients who want it done right starting immediately and call me today.
I was talking to a former client yesterday... he runs one of these IT departments that's just loaded - about 30 very talented people who handle EVERYTHING on-site. And I was telling him how Business & Decision could fit into the mix, helping with different technologies, system integrations, development, helping him launch Office 365 and build out Sharepoint and he stops me and says, "Gene, I have 30 people on staff that work to stay current on technologies that we use" to which I replied, "Boss, I have 2,800 who are currently experts in their technology domains - so what do you want to do - keep training your 30 folks on this, that and the other - so you can launch something next year - or bring in someone tomorrow who's already launched a dozen of the projects you're just starting to learn about." He didn't appreciate that - but he's in the business of keeping an IT staff busy. And I realized most of my current customers are more interested in the business aspect of IT - how can we make money with it - instead of how can we keep our IT workload up. Think about where you fit in.
Gene Hammons, MBA can be reached at email@example.com
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