Commoditise for success

Commoditise for success

Everyone wants business/technology alignment and commodity services can help provide it this year

One theme that I explored on these pages during 2008 is the potential business impact of the automation and commoditisation of converged and integrated data processing, data storage and data networking as on-demand services.

In my most recent piece I argued that, in these recessionary times, simply battening down the hatches could prove to be a high-risk option. A determined focus on certain transformational opportunities - and exploitation of commoditised infrastructural services is one such opening - could deliver rapid benefits in the form of sharply reduced operational costs and increased operational flexibility.

A recent executive survey leads me to argue the case from a different vantage point: the continuing perception that, while the exploitation of IT is now at the core of the operations of most contemporary businesses, the integration of IT and business strategies has yet to prove to be a marriage made in heaven.

Two thirds of the non-IT executives who replied to the McKinsey survey believed that business and IT strategies should be tightly coupled, but only between a fifth and a quarter judged that they actually are today in their business.

It is difficult to challenge the imperative that a business and its enabling technology strategies should be well aligned, yet delivering this remains a real-life dilemma. My opening salvo for 2009 is to propose that commoditisation is now the key to a transformational journey that can lead to a resolution of this dilemma. My insight is a simple one. Commoditisation of infrastructural ‘stuff' as directly sourceable services on demand allows their provision to become an exercise in straightforward commercial procurement. In a market environment where these services are widely available, their exploitation is no longer key to a business's competitive edge as all competitors have access to them.

Google now offers a bundle of unified communications services for $50 per seat, per year, that includes 25GB of storage, email, calendaring, instant messaging, voice, video, Sites for building web pages, Docs for office applications, collaboration capabilities, and more - all available around the globe via the internet. With this in place, strategic energy can be focused on the technology enablement required to deliver the business's core competencies out in the marketplace and in the heart of the operations of key clients - a major challenge but one more narrowly scoped by the competitive realities of the business. An alignment of IT and business strategies is now more easily deliverable.

At the heart of this insight is the issue of how the IT professional is to be put to work to create sustainable business value.

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