The Choice Overload Problem

Sheena Iyengar, a professor at the Columbia Business School, gave a famous TED Talk called “How to make choosing easier” a few years ago. She discusses research findings from case studies done by choices that CEOs and individuals make on a daily basis, as well as the choices that are made when we are given a set amount of options.

Sheena discusses how the average American makes 70 choices a day and the average CEO engages in about 139 tasks in a week. About 50 percent of decisions are made in nine minutes or less, while only 12 percent surpass 60 minutes. This is where we encounter “The Choice Overload Problem.” Does offering an overabundant amount of choices make for a good business model? VCE has already learned that IT simplicity dramatically improves an infrastructure, but so can simplifying choices.

The presenter highlights an experiment conducted at an upscale grocery store’s jam/jelly selection. A tasting booth was set up at different times, one with six different flavors of jam, and another with 24 different flavors. Although more people stopped and sampled the 24 jams made available for tasting, only 3 percent actually purchased jam. Fewer people stopped by the table with six flavors, but 30 percent made a purchase, yielding a 6X increase. Case in point, the lesser amount of offerings showed a greater amount of purchases. So what’s the summary? Less can be more. By offering more choices you can experience these negative consequences:

  1. The choice is delayed and procrastination takes place where you end up losing much sought after engagement.
  2. The consumer will be more likely to make poor choices thereby degrading their decision quality.
  3. The consumer is more likely to regret their decision and their overall satisfaction.

VCE was founded upon many of the ideas that Sheena discusses. We offer a product set that is engineered to meet almost all data center environments with workloads such as VDI, high-performance databases, and generalized workloads with data protection offerings. Rather than making IT infrastructures more complicated, VCE pre-integrates, pre-tests and pre-validates the best-of-the-best components, reducing the amount of customer risk, simplifying the purchasing process and removing complexity from the customer’s infrastructure.

“In reality, many choices are between things that are not that much different. The value of choice depends on our ability to perceive differences between the options.” – Sheena Iyengar

Too much complexity may ultimately lose what many CxOs are trying to accomplish: standardization. It’s a key attribute when trying to manage thousands of systems across many geographies because it simplifies the infrastructure. If you’re offered varying amounts of product sets from different vendors married with your own integration techniques, it leads to a devaluing experience with a loss in a few key areas:

  1. Purchase decisions are extended based upon the multitude of offerings presented as well as the time to engineer the existing integration.
  2. IT staff is burdened by the time spent learning a new technology instead of focusing on accomplishing the business initiatives.
  3. Soft cost is incurred with IT staff learning curves based on time as well as a hard cost with actual education.
  4. The ongoing maintenance effort becomes extra-ordinate by trying to couple a mix of inter-dependencies with best practices for maximum performance.

Each one of these relates to a hard or soft cost that you will experience and encounter with a reference architecture model instead of a true converged infrastructure solution set. Less is more.

IDC White Paper
Convergence with Vblock Systems: a Value Measurement

IDC’s recent study shows the positive results of VCE Vblock™ Systems. The simplified offerings from VCE are focused on the workload that customers need to run. Vblock Systems are flexible enough that we have more than three million different configuration options, but accounts for 95% of all standard data center workloads. Purchasing decisions can be made faster because the pre-engineered characteristics remove the need for multiple teams to agree on products and integration sets.

A Vblock System is delivered as a fully functional and operable product that can be integrated with your existing systems in as little as one hour. IT architecture, quality assurance, operations and support staff can take solace knowing that many products are already a part of your existing data center and VCE Vision™ Intelligent Operations consolidates an entire Vblock System into a holistic view for ease of management. These teams will be complemented with VCE’s Release Certification Matrices to ensure integration (The VCE Certification Matrix – Ensuring Integration) for on-going maintenance.

VCE Vblock Systems have made their way into many Fortune 100 companies because the experience is unlike any other. VCE addresses the challenges that many of these businesses face by creating a subset of simple choices that deliver a 45-day turnaround time from order to procurement to operation. As Sheena said, “The key to getting the most from choice is to be choosy about choosing.”

About the Author: Kendrick Coleman