What pain does your company solve for customers? What role does IT play in solving that pain? Can you or your senior management articulate how you solve pain in 15 seconds or less? If you cannot, your company is at a competitive disadvantage to those companies that can.
Pain has a way of focusing one’s attention. As I travel around the country talking with CIOs, I encourage them to answer those questions posed above and then frame any future requests for significant tech purchases in that context.
I then ask CIOs to look internally at their tech infrastructure. I query them on what their most significant day-to-day pain is. Many often respond that aging hardware and software infrastructures built in haste to prepare for Y2K are their most significant sources of pain.
Computers and software licenses purchased in 1998 or 1999 will be entering their fifth year of use in 2003. What also worries CIOs is that nearly 50 percent of corporate PCs run Windows 98 or Windows NT 4.X. Guess what? In June 2003, those operating systems enter the beyond extended support phase. While the OSs may still work, in the beyond extended support phase, security updates released by Microsoft will not be sent. Ouch!
CIOs were good corporate soldiers in 2001 and 2002; they delayed needed hardware and software upgrades. Our company is an example. Many of our sales representatives work off notebook computers sold in early 1999. A Kinko’s customer service person literally laughed at our Chicago rep who brought her computer into a local Kinko’s store to download a corporate presentation.
Old tech stuff, though, is not a laughing matter. I predict that in 2003 there will be more than one very high profile corporate tech crash caused by aging infrastructure.
Here’s an interesting exercise. Calculate the average age of your installed PCs based on the year you purchased them. Do the same for the operating systems on those PCs, but calculate their age by the year tech vendors released them. Divide the average age of your hardware by the average age of your installed software base. If your calculation is anything less than one, now is the time to start rebuilding your infrastructure.