Knowledge Network

Making IT Infrastructure Last: Unlocking Potential with Services

Making IT Infrastructure Last: Unlocking Potential with Services

GB Kumar, Senior VP Cisco India

Responsible businesses are constantly challenged to find ways to cut costs improve profitability and maximise returns for investors. Another significant social responsibility of companies is their environment-friendliness ensuring the smallest possible carbon footprint is kept under consideration. With business infrastructure purchase and maintenance high on a list of unavoidable costs for a business, it is absolutely critical that businesses ensure that their infrastructure is robust and remains relevant to their business for as long as possible.
This is even truer and even more difficult when it comes to the IT infrastructure of an organization. While there was a time when businesses could afford to buy the latest and best technology, today the focus is more on discerning the value that a device, application, or solution can bring. In the recent times, companies have even preferred to buy in to less capital-intensive offerings like services to unlock greater potential from existing technology. As was expected in the last financial year, Indian companies expenses on fixed assets rose by only seven percent, a modest figure when compared to the previous year's growth of 37 percent.
A school of thought believes that IT in itself does not offer a competitive advantage to a business, simply because every other person or entity has access to the same commercially-available technology solution. The true competitive differentiation for the business lies in the creative application of suitable solutions for business problems. When an OpEx investment in licensing or activating certain elements of technology architecture can unlock greater value than a whole new CapEx outlay, it provides the business with motivation to uncover the hitherto unexplored capabilities of their infrastructure.
Coming back to the point about IT being an enabler of a cost advantage, the above illustration holds true even in the case of new technology. Responsible businesses are constantly challenged to find ways to cut costs improve profitability and maximise returns for investors.
Responsible businesses are constantly challenged to find ways to cut costs improve profitability and maximise returns for investors. Another significant social responsibility of companies is their environment-friendliness ensuring the smallest possible carbon footprint is kept under consideration. With business infrastructure purchase and maintenance high on a list of unavoidable costs for a business, it is absolutely critical that businesses ensure that their infrastructure is robust and remains relevant to their business for as long as possible.
This is even truer and even more difficult when it comes to the IT infrastructure of an organization. While there was a time when businesses could afford to buy the latest and best technology, today the focus is more on discerning the value that a device, application, or solution can bring. In the recent times, companies have even preferred to buy in to less capital-intensive offerings like services to unlock greater potential from existing technology. As was expected in the last financial year, Indian companies expenses on fixed assets rose by only seven percent, a modest figure when compared to the previous year's growth of 37 percent.
A school of thought believes that IT in itself does not offer a competitive advantage to a business, simply because every other person or entity has access to the same commercially-available technology solution. The true competitive differentiation for the business lies in the creative application of suitable solutions for business problems. When an OpEx investment in licensing or activating certain elements of technology architecture can unlock greater value than a whole new CapEx outlay, it provides the business with motivation to uncover the hitherto unexplored capabilities of their infrastructure.
Coming back to the point about IT being an enabler of a cost advantage, the above illustration holds true even in the case of new technology purchases. Rather than simply identifying and buying technology that suits the business current requirements, the need of the hour is to be more prudent in selecting a key component of which would be ensuring that the technology is relevant for a time even just beyond the horizon.
While a device manufacturer or seller in a new relationship scenario would be able to provide a sales pitch that directly pits the features of the technology against the challenges faced by the business, this becomes a little more difficult in a post-deployment enhancement situation. In such a case, when the business needs have evolved but the basic technology architecture remains the same, it would call for a vendor-agnostic technology consultant to make an objective study of requirements versus existing capability, and plan for unlocking existing potential or upgrading to newer solutions.
This also ties back to the fact that activating a feature of a solution or device would in most cases be more economical than refreshing the entire architecture. This also holds true in situations such as changed requirements due to increased business size, headcount, number of customers, and many other reasons for expansion.
The ideal situation, as many businesses now believe, is an early engagement with a technology consultant, enabling the business to architect a technology solution on paper with the consultant while taking into consideration current business requirements and projected growth. This plan is then translated into reality with solutions from the most competitive vendors. Businesses that align with a consultant before a major technology installation benefit from more competitive solutions at better prices, longer lifespan for their architecture, and greater ability to cater to changing business needs.
As an example, a business process outsourcing company of around 1000 employees may have invested in a high-capacity telecommunications system with IP phones on each desk. While this is a capital-intensive move at the very outset, if the company had aligned with an IT services consultant, they would have been able to enable functionality far beyond simple voice calls on the telephones. These units would be enabled for text-based communication, control centres for ambient temperature and lighting, and much more functionality.
With the focus from businesses being on the purchase of solutions rather than products, it is up to each technology vendor to offer their customers a holistic offering. Companies today do not take the time out to research products in the market and decide on the best fit for their need, but would rather engage a consultant, communicate what their business challenges are, and expect to receive a proposal of the most suitable solution which would be a mix of hardware, software, applications, and more.
Vendors who can customize the most effective solution for their customers will lead in the new business environment, as they enable businesses to gain the maximum out of their existing infrastructure or new investment. And as investments in new infrastructure may be some time in coming back up to pre-downturn levels, vendors would find that CapEx budgets are the new revenue stream to tap into.

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