Dazzled by the Glitz

It's easy to get swept up in the next new thing.

Based on current global economic conditions, it seems that all of you are really bunkering down and focusing on operational innovation these days. This philosophy was recently emphasized when Josh Morton, VP of IT operations for Sprint Nextel, said that "the business reality today is that you have to be better, faster and cheaper." This is causing CIOs to test their traditional thinking. It's also causing a movement toward new and "sexy" technologies like SOA, open source, SaaS, wireless and virtualization, to name a few.

But what about the "nonsexy" technologies that are tried and true and offer a ton of efficiency? I had the opportunity to meet Earl Beauvais, director of print, plot and scan, the shared services for Boeing, at a recent industry event. I asked him how much Boeing spends on printing. He smiled and said, "Would you believe that five years ago, Boeing was spending $150 million a year?"

Two things amazed me about his answer: One, that a company can spend that much money on printing, and two, that Beauvais actually knew the answer to the question without even blinking. We all know the famous quote that "you can't manage what you don't measure." But honestly, if I were to ask all of you right now how much you spend on printing, would you be able to answer that question right off the top of your head?

I'll bet not. In a recent CIO study on green IT, we found that 61 percent of CIOs don't currently measure their overall carbon footprint, and printing is a large component of this. What's even more impressive is that Boeing has been able to cut their print expenses by $50 million over the past five years. They print less, have a more efficient workflow and are a better "green" player.

With the priority list growing and economic uncertainty lurking, printing might not be top of mind for you. But if you could save $50 million tomorrow by managing this element of your business better, wouldn't you put some focus on it?

The point is this: We (press, vendors and CIOs) get a bit mesmerized by the flash bulbs and the glitz of new technologies and their potential. But, there are still plenty of areas in our daily operations where millions can be found if we took the time to focus on them. Printing is just one example.

Have you found a way to be better, faster and cheaper? Let us know about it so we can share your success with other CIOs.

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