This is the time of year we take stock, look ahead and maybe make a few resolutions.
Times are tough. Caution prevails under pressure from business owners warily eyeing iffy forecasts and skimpy orders. But, as new financial services secretary Lord Myners said: avoid reckless caution.
His barb was aimed at banking, but applies equally to companies using the
downturn to cut IT
budgets and delay investment.
Vendors and customers should embrace a new spirit of co-operation to ensure investments are viable for both parties.
The arguments for IT investment financing are stronger than ever. All decisions should consider payback times, total cost of ownership and return on investment.
Recently, we accompanied one of our suppliers to the closing of a £120,000 deal. The supplier wanted to employ the best people and when the customer pushed for a discount and threatened to reconsider, the supplier stood his ground.
He explained that he could not afford to discount and still deliver the
service he had promised. He closed the deal. Good people cost money and
suppliers cannot justify their existence unless they
implement and support profitable, economically viable solutions.
Resellers can no more afford to be eating into margins than customers can afford to be blowing their budgets in one go. Be honest with your customers about what makes a project economically viable.
This year looks like a year for burgeoning IT models such as utility computing, managed services and software-as-a-service.
Web-based offerings can make sense, eliminating much up-front disruption, delay and cost.
But those costs must be borne instead by the service provider, meaning that vendors and resellers must find a way of funding up-front investment.
The key to making subscription-based and payment-on-demand programmes viable
is to work with
a finance partner who understands the demands of customers and the need to make ends meet as a vendor.
And there is some cause for optimism. A global Gartner survey suggests that IT budgets may rise 3.4 per cent in 2009. Worst case, budgets will fall 2.5 per cent.
A steady year should not be beyond us. Indeed, IT might be first to welcome
the green shoots
of recovery when they do appear.
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