Just having done the budget for 2008 and reviewing the licensing fees paid and payable, I really had to ask, what am I paying for? We are red stack, linux backend, Oracle Enterprise One, MS Office Enterprise blah blah blah.
What do we really use of all this functionality and every upgrade with new features? Probably a small percentage. What does the average user need? A basic spreadsheet, typewriter level functionality to do a letter, minutes or a memorandum, and basic powerpoint type functionality to do the odd presentation. At enterprise level, the transaction capability to do the job, with the necessary security and governance levels in place, no more, no less. And yes, we need to get our emails.
Is it that simple? Would the IT community jump at the chance to get more cost effective software, with less features and a smaller footprint, at a fraction of the price, or are we at the mercy of a world that is greedy for more, more features, more stuff, more superfluous things that the majority of users will never use (and it never gets cheaper).
As a parallel, take for example our mobile phone industry. Its not just a phone any more, its a GPS, camera, mp3 player, TV and DVD, Toaster and microwave, email and yes, it still can answer your calls!
In a world that is running low on resources, where green is the way to go, surely we need to critically look at our software usage, what it delivers and is it necessary to consume all those additional resources because its nice to have?
My colleagues have pointed out that open source is the option, but we seem to be falling into the same trap here of "me too" in terms of features and gadgets. Its time that we reformulate our requirements and software developers need to find other ways of adding value and not features.
Its time to go "Lite" and fellow CIO's should stand up and support the vendors who take up this challenge. We often talk about supporting business when instead, we should be leading strategy.
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