Persuading businesses to invest in a new or upgraded IT infrastructure can be a testing task at the best of times. The deployment of a new application can be a good time to review existing infrastructure to make sure that it is running securely and efficiently. But why wait for a new application to upgrade infrastructure when there can be considerable benefits for all of the existing applications?
The latest round of research on the adoption of grid technology shows the degree to which businesses are investing in their IT infrastructure. The areas in which firms continue to invest are consolidation, virtualisation and grid-based infrastructure.
A key step in getting any IT investment decision approved is to make sure you have the buy-in from the firm’s financial management. While an IT manager can say “yes”, this may well be over-ruled by a “no” from the finance department, because other spending has been prioritised by the business management.
To understand when and how this might happen, it helps to have a view of the differing attitudes to IT that are held by IT and business managers. This was something that the latest round of grid research looked at to better understand how businesses make decisions about IT infrastructure investment.
One thing was clear: business managers are more confident in the capabilities of their IT infrastructure than IT managers. From the point of view of the business, this gap in perception is intriguing. Is it that the business managers are over-confident in the capabilities of IT? Could this lead to a disaster at some point in the future? Or is it that IT managers have a tendency to recommend unnecessary and expensive upgrades because of unfounded and undue worries over functional capabilities?
Business managers see the value of IT through the value delivered to their organisation by business applications. The research shows that their view of IT spending is more likely to be associated with individual applications than IT infrastructure and they are more likely to expect the existing infrastructure to carry the burden.
On the other hand, IT managers are more likely to worry about the burden of a new application and consider how the infrastructure needs to be modified to carry it.
However, this situation is not as gloomy as it might sound. The research shows a high degree of overlap in most organisations. It is in the more extreme cases where problems will be found in matching up the views of the IT department and the business it serves. But those recommending and selling IT infrastructure upgrades need to be aware of the possible pitfalls if they do not understand how the views of the business differ from those of the IT department.
Many of the business managers that took part felt that IT management was getting involved at an early stage in the decision-making process, while many of their IT counterparts thought that their views were being neglected until much later in the investment process.
When this is the case there is probably not much that a seller can do to fix the problem that exists within the
customer. However, the seller must understand that the problem is there, and work with both business and IT management to make the case for IT infrastructure investment. Only in this way can they ensure that they win their deal.
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