Lean and mean

“I want less servers, less storage, a reduced number of suppliers, streamlined IT management systems, greater predictability in terms of cost, and increased flexibility in the IT function,” declares the big hitting Middle East CIO. “No problem,” replies the friendly consultant from the enterprise vendor, “but it’s going to cost you big time.”

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  February 12, 2007

|~||~||~|“I want less servers, less storage, a reduced number of suppliers, streamlined IT management systems, greater predictability in terms of cost and increased flexibility in the IT function,” declares the big hitting Middle East CIO. “No problem,” replies the friendly consultant from the enterprise vendor, “but it’s going to cost you big time.”

Now this is a conversation that is played out time after time between enterprise end-users and vendors in the Middle East; and it is an exchange that highlights the glaring discord that still exists between an end-user’s eternal quest for greater IT efficiency and a vendor’s underlying raison d'être: raise the top line, boost the bottom line margin and persuade the customers to spend even more.

It’s too easy for end-users to lose sight of this fundamental business dynamic when they become engrossed in the technical side of enterprise IT. And this is one of the reasons why many forward-thinking Middle East enterprises are now separating the technical evaluation of a potential IT solution from a rational assessment of the financial side of the deal.

The enterprise IT vendors won’t like me saying this, but there are still some CIOs and IT managers in the Middle East that are too easily impressed by a supplier’s smooth sales technique. The visit from the EMEA VP, the flashy PowerPoint presentation, the first class trip to see an implementation in Europe and the wild figures promising an incredible TCO and ROI still prove too tempting for some — even if the evidence to back the claims up is tenuous in the extreme.

They fall for it hook, line and sinker and open their chequebooks to splash some serious cash on shelfware that is totally unsuitable for their business needs, or hardware that has absolutely no place within their existing IT infrastructure.

It is happening more frequently in this region than it does in more mature markets such as Western Europe and the US where the buyers have got a little bit smarter and the vendors have had to step their game up.

Who’s to blame for the current flaws in the vendor-customer relationship in the Middle East? It’s too easy to pin the blame on the vendors and, as much as I love doing that, I’m afraid that the end-users also need to shoulder a burden of responsibility in this particular case. ||**||

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