by Gary Beach

Publisher Letter: Doing More with Less Has Limits

Dec 01, 20032 mins
Personal Software

CIOs spent years moving data, first from mainframes to minicomputers, then to PCs, local area networks and finally to the Web. In the spring of 2001, CIOs stopped moving data just as their businesses were poised to extend nearly completed intranet infrastructures to supply chain partners and customers via Web services.

Since that time, as I mentioned in my Feb. 15, 2003, column, “CF-Nos” have taken control of the pace of technology spending. While budgets shrunk?though they didn’t disappear entirely?many in the industry have acted as if they have vanished. CIOs, in turn, were forced to learn the language of ROI, and even though some iterations of ROI were veiled excuses by the CF-No not to invest in technology, the moniker ROI at least conveyed a positive proposition.

But a new dialect of ROI is now being spoken by CIOs and vendors. And this language makes no sense.

In my role as publisher, I enjoy meeting with vendors when they come to visit our editorial staff. This year, ROI has been dropped from their marketing literature and vendor-speak, and it has been replaced by a new mantra: “Do more with less.”

At face value, “Do more with less” appeals directly to the pain points CIOs are feeling. Less money to spend, less people on staff, less time to do it all. I get that part of it. What I have a more difficult time with is that businesses, though strapped for investment dollars, still have to operate IT infrastructures. Each day their employees create more?not less?information. Every new purchase?even on reduced budgets?adds more burdens to existing infrastructures, not less.

Doing more with less is a dangerous standard for CIOs to live by. Commit to it, and I guarantee that your CF-No will ratchet it up to “Do more and more with less and less.” And doing more with less will pave a sure road to a future infrastructure that does less with more. If CIOs head down that route, they’ll have more to worry about than reduced budgets. They may have to worry about finding new jobs.