3 Enterprise IT Resolutions for 2014

IT leaders should take the phrase 'out with the old and in with the new' to heart as they consider their plans for the New Year. Old software, old vendors and old habits that get in the way of your company's progress should all be shown the door.

By Rob Enderle
Fri, January 03, 2014

CIO — As we look forward to 2014 — I doubt many of us miss 2013 — we can anticipate a number of massive changes. Robotics and 3D printing will make huge inroads in manufacturing and prototyping, battery technology will likely become obsolete and we'll be up to our armpits in Chinese vendors attempting to break out from China.

And that's just the obvious stuff. We'll undoubtedly have to deal with security (Target), employee benefits (healthcare reform) and new customer privacy rules. This suggests that you'll need to free up resources that are being used to maintain obsolete systems today, eliminate underperforming vendors and look more aggressively for best practices.

Reduce Complexity and Make Better Choices

Companies naturally become excessively complex over time. Look at IBM in the 1990s and Microsoft today: Both firms went through, or are going through, massive and nearly fatal restructuring so they can again be agile enough to compete. This is true of all firms.

[ Related: 7 Things on Microsoft's 2014 To-Do List ]
[ Also: Why Analytics, Steven Mills Will Save IBM ]

Lying at the heart of this complexity are systems and software — so little of which, over time, were designed to work together or anticipate the changes that are to come. That's why the vast majority of IT spending and staffing is devoted not to improving your company's performance but on keeping all that old, jury-rigged crap running.

Things won't get better unless you actively start replacing the obsolete stuff and also make better choices about the vendors and systems you work with. Look for systems that interoperate and vendors that embrace flexibility as a way to anticipate change. Avoid vendors that lock you into their solutions, don't seem to care that you exist or simply view you as a piggy bank so the CEO can buy things such as, say, an island and airline.

Identify and Eliminate Bad Vendors

This takes us to the critical need to eliminate bad vendors. You'll do this eventually anyway, but if you move ahead of the curve, you should find resources to help make the move more readily acceptable. During the dark years of IBM, in the 1980s, the company believed it was impossible to move. The IBM customers that moved first got tons of attention from competing vendors. Those that waited shared an inadequate amount of resources; they still moved to IBM competitors, albeit with much more pain.

If you can first identify vendors who mistreat or ignore you, try to get their attention and express your dissatisfaction. If you're a fluke, you might end up with better service for the same cost. If not, up focus on getting rid of the bad vendors — and saving a ton of money and aggravation in the process.

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