Swinging at Every Pitch: Doesn’t work in IT or Baseball

As CIOs and other corporate leaders adapt to serve customers in ever-changing markets, large-scale technology decisions are becoming increasingly difficult to make. Shifting demands of the market (and customers) are often pitted against the pressure to decrease costs and optimize portfolios.  Many tech leaders end up in a reactionary mode, attempting to support their business partners’ shifting needs – the IT-equivalent of swinging at every pitch, or every IT project that comes up for review.

While there is no shortage of Dell offerings to solve the wide range of problems CIOs face, it may not always be obvious why, or if, these offerings are optimal for your company at this point in time.  So what are the sorts of things to consider as you contemplate a significant investment in technology –- and how can you recognize a hitter’s pitch?

A good first step is to identify your underlying issue(s) and plan investment around them. Is your business suffering from lack of agility and/or high operating costs?  Low customer satisfaction and/or shaky sales pipeline?  Prioritizing pain points by theme will allow you to focus your largest investments in high-value areas, and reap the rewards of a targeted tech investment strategy.

For example, if cost savings are of utmost importance, you’ll look for levers that can be pulled in the short term and strategies to be adopted in the long term to achieve notable cost savings.  Depending on your short- and long-term goals, you might focus on quick-wins like server consolidation projects, adoption of cheaper/smarter storage solutions, consumption of services that can roll-out quickly and provide immediate cost relief and customer value, and the like. Or you might focus on foundational investments like green IT initiatives, data center optimizations, event-driven architectures, data-driven analysis, and so on.

I read an article on ZDNet-Asia that quotes a Gartner analyst (Andy Rowsell-Jones, Gartner's vice president and research director) in which he suggests a company's CIO should learn to "speak the CFO's language" in order to get approval for IT projects.  Great suggestion – but with all due respect to Mr. Rowsell-Jones, I'd suggest that CIOs, and all IT people for that matter, need to focus on understanding and contributing to the business objectives of the company rather than focusing on getting IT projects approved.  Although there is much more to Mr. Rowsell-Jones’ position on the matter, this article is a great illustration of how our IT colleagues can easily get absorbed navigating the system rather than embracing our calling to be an asset to our companies.

In a series of blog entries, we’ll explore a few investment themes that emerge in response to common business challenges, and we’ll review approaches to connecting the dots between available technology solutions (Dell and otherwise) and your area of investment focus and desired timeline. 

For now, I'd encourage you to start thinking about the underlying themes in your business that must be addressed – this will help you isolate areas for investment and know when to swing or take a pitch.

If you have specific pain points you'd like me to discuss, let me know.

About the Author: Angela Yochem