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IT Optimization: the downturn power-up

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Robert Kosby Robert Kos
Technology Practice Lead

Ok, I admit, I shamelessly stole the title from a Deloitte publication. However, I couldn’t help myself, especially in light of the fact that last year we were involved in several ventures related to gaming: from hard-core video gaming turned simulation for military and other environments to casual and social gaming, where internet is a medium engaging people in their favorite guilty pleasure. And it was in the latter area where monetization and micro-payments for – among others – power-ups – were discussed over and over… (It could also be my son playing his iPad and requesting power-ups every 10 or so minutes) Regardless, giving credit where it’s due, I am freely borrowing this catchy phrase to talk about ways we help our clients brace for potential downturn while saving on IT costs and taking advantage of most appropriate technologies IT industry has to offer now.

I recall that back in the dark ages of 2008, Walmart and Tesco were about the only retailers making significant IT investments outside of PCI compliance. And although this fact was mostly brought up by salespeople, trying to persuade others to spend in downturn, it highlights a key concept: the greats of this world try to move one step ahead of the competition by using the only time during which they don’t have to manage growth to prepare for the times when they do.

All of our clients are constantly juggling their business needs and technology. In vast majority of high-growth companies – even those, where technology is a key enabler or a product – this results in a spider web of technologies and intertwined business processes, frequently increasing risk and lessening competitive advantages of companies. In good economic times, no one touches this web, because they are too busy building market share and reacting to growth. In bad ones, no one touches it either, because they are guided by one or more of the popular misnomers:

IT means spend and we need to save. Certainly, back in the dark ages prior to the interconnected web, most IT projects meant increased capital spending up front – something none of the CEOs think of in difficult times. However, cloud computing, virtualization and increased maturity of web-enabled technologies created a foundation for switching from an investment to an operational model, where companies can subscribe to technology services as and how they need them, often saving money on the current solutions. And it helps that CFOs and investors are also embracing this trend from a financial perspective, accepting right-sized and terminable OpEx instead of CapEx. We help our clients navigate through various scenarios with special focus on the following:

  • Implementing cloud computing and virtualization technologies
  • Embracing web enabled and social technologies
  • Outsourcing and collaborative co-sourcing of business and IT areas

Our IT and business processes are highly customized and any change will require significant investment and effort. If I had a proverbial dollar any time I heard it, I could probably afford an iPad mini when and if they finally come out with retina display. This very tenet has stifled more technology and business initiatives than any other, often perpetrating old and inefficient infrastructure instead of taking a fresh view. Trust me, you are not that different. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge, thought and solutions out there, which also apply to you, especially when it comes to business processes. We frequently help our clients realize it through:

  • Simplifying their technology architecture
  • Application of standardized business processes and creating business / technology maps
  • Developing initiatives to manage data and its flow throughout the company
  • Performing human delivery capability assessments

Optimizing technology now carries too much risk, especially when we need to struggle to survive. This statement calls for the simple question: so, when are you going to do it? When the economy picks up and you need to hire more people to handle the growth, further perpetrating the inefficient web of technologies which is preventing you from growing and causing major dissatisfaction among your customers? In this area, very similar to pre-investment analysis, we help our clients by:

  • Performing assessments and quantifying the risks of various decision-making scenarios

Among key differentiators of our practice across the competitive marketplace I count our approach to portfolio or groups of companies. In keeping with a motto that different is good mostly only when it applies to competitive advantage and core business, we emphasize areas where our clients can build business processes and technologies that are shared among all companies, taking advantage of individual strengths, as well as common management. We apply this approach not only to IT infrastructure and back office, but also to business processes, using the above mentioned enabling technologies as a common denominator.

So, as you brace yourself for the turbulent times, (em)brace the power-up business and technology optimization may give you at the present moment. And while thinking of obtaining a competitive advantage for the next bull market may be a bit esoteric at the moment, think of concrete savings and improvements that a fresh look could bring your business, starting much sooner than you think.