It's the economy, stupid! Those words never rang truer than today. PricewaterhouseCoopers released the results of its annual CEO survey last month, and fear of a recession topped the list of business concerns, surpassing energy supply, climate change, and terrorism. Last week, VMware, the darling of Wall Street, took a stock hit on fears of an IT pullback. So, what does all this mean for CIOs? I don't know, but I might imagine scenarios like this playing out across the country:
CFO: Thanks for dropping by. You may have read about problems in the economy these days.
CIO: Yeah, I think I heard something about that on the news.
CFO: The bottom line is this: I'm getting considerable pressure from up top to reduce expenses across the board. Your organization was one of the first places I thought of.
CIO: I'm flattered. Funny thing is, I was about to ask for a cash investment. I'm convinced that if we upgrade our technology infrastructure and application portfolio, we can reduce our overall spending on IT considerably.
CFO: Spend money to save money? That's last year's thinking. This year it's cut, cut, cut.
CIO: Easier to remember.
CFO: Is there anything we can pull the plug on immediately? What about that virtual serverization project you've been talking about so much?
CIO: You mean server virtualization? There's up-front cost, but we've had good results with our initial tests and if we expand the strategy we'll save a considerable amount by consolidating hardware and freeing up CPU resources. Did you see the memo I sent on that?
CFO: My executive assistant read it. She wasn't all that impressed.
CIO: I'll see if I can punch it up.
CFO: What about head count? Can't we eliminate a few of the weaker performers?
CIO: Those people are long gone. We're spread pretty thin--we've had open positions for months, there are projects we can't get to, and everyone is working overtime. Morale is already low.
CFO: Can we outsource more?
CIO: Sure, but the cost savings there are evaporating quickly.
CFO: Anything on the security front?
CIO: The expression "asking for trouble" comes to mind.
CFO: What about these so-called "green" initiatives? Aren't they a bit, you know, superfluous?
CIO: At first glance, maybe. However, a new cooling system in the data center alone will lower our power consumption enough to pay for itself in six months.
CFO: Sounds like that "spend to save" strategy again. You've got to get out of that mind-set.
CIO: I'm trying. One place we could cut is by putting off that migration to Windows Vista. It's going to require a considerable investment to upgrade our PCs and rewrite our applications, and we can get by just fine with Windows XP.
CFO: Now you're talking! Wait a minute, isn't the old man on the board of some charity organization with Bill Gates? No, I don't think that's going to go over too well up top.
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