My latest Forrester CIO client visits tell me economic uncertainty is actually helping IT leaders accelerate plans for the future. Sounds counterintuitive, right? Perhaps it’s just because I started in Europe, where the hourly ups and downs of sovereign debt crises cause government policy whiplash paired with market cap acid reflux. Most consider trying to plan anything in this environment, particularly slow-changing corporate IT systems, impossible. Or perhaps, as IT leaders, we’re still just haunted by the great tech recession a decade ago, and we just expect IT budgets will always be the target of corporate austerity efforts.
But one thing is clear: For some, uncertainty breeds paralysis. For others, the very presence of uncertainty offers a platform to drive clever and radical change. Consider two of the many stories about the latter I heard recently:
1. One IT leader uses uncertainty to reduce his dependency on Microsoft software clients. To be clear, every IT leader I met faces daunting budget pressure. This client’s business is producing basic materials for construction projects globally. Depressed demand for building materials means his company has turned otherwise dormant kilns for firing these materials into ovens for destroying old tires and drugs seized by police. Why? Because finding productive uses for capital investments helps (at least) service debt on that capital when current market demand disappears (and apparently, these kilns burn at such a high heat, they produce zero emissions – that’s cool).
So this IT leader is doing his part by optimizing his employee toolkit. Forrester’s most recent Strategic Planning Forrsights data shows two things: Few people in enterprises actually use the full suite of Microsoft products, and even fewer engage in more than about 15% of the functionality of Microsoft tools. Yet prior analysis indicates that client software, archiving capabilities, and mobility support are some of the largest per-employee cost drivers in the Microsoft toolkit portfolio. Following my logic above, I’d argue there’s no better time for this IT leader to attempt pulling the familiar Microsoft Office tools from the grips of business execs who use it only occasionally. Today, it’s about getting productive use out of our capital.
More of the Forrester post from Matthew Brown