Business & Finance
07:15 PM
Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl

Editor's Note: Standardize To Curb Complexity

Get any group of business-technology executives together to discuss priorities and wish lists, and the topic of complexity is sure to come up. What can be done to reduce it--in infrastructure, licensing strategies, vendor management, enterprise applications? It's no secret that many executives would prefer to cut down on the number of vendors they work with or the number of tools they use. Some are willing to give up a best-of-breed approach (which often requires significant integration efforts) in favor of simplicity. The industry is helping meet those needs through consolidation. But let's face it: Most execs scoff at the idea of handing over the keys to any one vendor. There's already enough "lock in" when it comes to certain enterprise apps. And while large IT contracts often go to single outsourcing firms where there's essentially one throat to choke when things go wrong, those days are fading fast. Last week's megadeal by ABN Amro, which will divvy up a $2 billion contract among five service providers, highlights a new model for global sourcing of IT services.

There are good reasons to do this: less risk, better prices, ability to move projects around, and access to innovative technologies. But where it seems most challenging will be in the ability to manage complexity. When we talked to General Motors CIO Ralph Szygenda last year about trying to get services firms to work together better, the call for standards was loud and clear. He's lobbying to get three firms--Accenture, EDS, and IBM--to develop common standards for about 30 IT-related processes in advance of awarding new contracts (see story, "Brave New World"). TCS, Patni, and Infosys (which are part of the ABN Amro deal, along with Accenture and IBM) ought to join in on this effort.

Stephanie Stahl

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