Welcome to my new form of click bait titles. I have been thinking about this for a while. I get to see a lot of different enterprise environments as a solution architect for VMware. It’s been great to experience all these customers challenges and help them on their journey. Years ago I was very focused on helping organizations understand the cost of IT. It was very important to me to identify the total cost of resources. IT has long been able to quantify capital expenses due to hardware costs. All you have to do is take your bill of materials and divided it by the logical resource element. (GB’s of storage, RAM etc..) Operating expenses have long plagued IT organizations because staff normally multi-tasks and dislikes tracking individual work. This total action was supposed to help you have a seat at the business table by talking then language of business (money). I have written this article to argue why I believe cost justification means you are loosing the battle with your business.
Why does cost justification mean you are loosing the battle
When I first started in IT I was in charge of personal computers for an organization. Every three years we had a bake-off between major PC vendors where they would parade their latest prize pig in front of us. In the end the winner was determined by who was willing to go the lowest on price. There was no loyalty there was only price. There was no value add. Then a strange thing happened. My customer became interested in PC features which were reflected in aesthetic preference. They didn’t care about the hardware specifications.
They wanted something that looked nice and was a status symbol. They didn’t care about price. Suddenly management no longer cared about price they wanted the Macbook. I did a justification related to the cost of IT repairs on Mac’s in a last-ditch effort to head off the Apple invasion. I didn’t win.
Quite simply put there is always going to be another prize pig that will beat you on price by either reducing features or buying at an economy of scale that you cannot. So when IT is 100% based on cost justification you are always going to lose. Please don’t assume that I am saying cost does not matter it does.. but it cannot be the only factor in a choice because the farm is world-wide now. When your business is left with a justification of cost between private and public cloud you might loose.
Perception is reality
Macbook’s are better right? Well it depends on who you ask. Perception determines reality. My customers perceived that Macbook’s are better because all the cool kids were using them… The truth is the hardware is pretty good but expensive compared to other x86 machines. Most IT professionals love technology. They cannot wait to be on the bleeding edge of technology. Infrastructure has become on the whole very risk adverse for a number of reasons:
- When something fails they are the first to be called
- Mountains of technical debt
- Weak development unit testing
- Sheer sprawl of divergence in the environment
This risk aversion has made infrastructure people the old man yelling get off my lawn of technology while all the cool kids have Macbooks and text get off my lawn. It’s time for infrastructure to return to their roots and embrace change once again or be left behind. It’s a software defined world… learn how to use an API today. Learn about the cloud providers because they are part of your future.
Digital is thrown around too much… it’s the cloud of the 2000’s. (Not to be confused with the cloud of the 2010’s) I believe digital transformation is defined as IT aligning with the business. If you start your alignment by assigning a bill or trying to use cost as leverage you cannot assume it will help the relationship. The key element of any relationship is not power manipulation (cost) it’s achieving mutual shared goals. It’s working together to solve problems as a single entity. At VMworld 2018 I spoke along with Craig Fletcher about this relationship and we compared it to a marriage. I suggest that a lot of infrastructure teams are heading for a divorce. You IT have to take the first step to fix the relationship… because if you don’t the business will go find another suitor (can you spell AWS). Allow me to suggest four things to consider in your digital journey:
- Spend more time understanding how your efforts impact revenue or not
- Create a state of IT anonymous survey
- Create cross functional teams to address business challenges
- Embrace change and cross cloud capabilities
© 2017, Joseph Griffiths. All rights reserved.