Technology Commodity Conversation

David Byrd : Byrd's Eye View
David Byrd
Chief Marketing Officer for ANPI

Technology Commodity Conversation

A few years ago Nick Carr in a Harvard Business Review article proposed that Information Technology was a commodity and no longer of strategic value to a business. In addition to a belief that IT was ubiquitous, available to all, he expressed a general concern over the amount of CAPEX and OPEX that IT organizations consumed. Finally, the IT elements affected by the discussion include storage, processing and communications.

Yesterday, during a conference session at LegalTech 2011 in Los Angeles, the question was asked again regarding whether IT was a commodity. The answer, of course, was “No” but the reason given was only partially correct. The reason given was that over time certain technologies become commodities while others establish a new horizon. The example given was database technology. In the 1990s, relational databases and high performance scalable databases were the rage. Companies made billions developing and improving this technology. Today, these features are found in most databases and are not viewed as offering a strategic advantage. A similar position can be taken with regard to processors or servers. Processing speeds have become a niche area of conversation. IBM’s Watson is an example of such a conversation. Having won its game of jeopardy, it is now seeking real world opportunities to apply its massive computing capability. It takes an effort because most businesses have the computing power they need in much simpler and cheaper platforms.

So, what is incomplete about the above? I suggest if IT also includes communication than there is nothing commoditized about the technology. Begin with what we have seen in just the last few years. With the release of the iPhone, wireless technology has not only taken on a new look and feel, it has also seen an explosion in new applications. “There is an app for that” is more than an empty phrase. There are literally thousands of apps and more constantly being developed.  Imagine tying these apps to an IP PBX and you gain insight into what unified communications, unified messaging and collaborative applications can or will be. Broadvox and Cypress Communications enable these capabilities for both premise and hosted IP PBX offerings. Since I don’t have the space to list all of the IP PBX vendors out there working on improving business communications, processes and productivity, I won’t. Converting technology into useful information and thereby knowledge and improved decision making is an ongoing effort. Let’s be clear, this stuff is not commoditized.

As you develop sales presentations for your prospects or C-level management, maintain clarity as to the value of improving IT infrastructure through both CAPEX (Infrastructure spending) and OPEX (operations and cloud computing). The strategic value is real.

 

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