i-Technology Viewpoint: The New Paradigm of IT Buying
"Technology should add value to your business, not hold it captive."
By: Mark R. Hinkle
Oct. 11, 2005 03:15 AM
With the U.S. economy and IT spending finally appearing to be making a comeback and China and India adopting IT faster than you can say symmetric multiprocessing, why am I predicting layoffs?
I'm not predicting layoffs so much as a shift from vendors and service providers who don't support the integration of open source and commercial systems. You see, I lead somewhat of a sheltered life - I usually speak with people in the open source field, the IT professionals who drink the proverbial Kool-Aid. They already have IT plans that encompass open source operating systems, such as Linux and other systems, and software that adhere to open standards. However, as I try to expand my horizons, I'm finding more people who use vendors that are not interested in supporting open standards or interacting with community-developed open source software. They claim this puts them at risk because open systems are often untested.
I'll let you in on a little secret: even the commercial tested solutions often aren't all they're cracked up to be; even worse, if there is a problem, you are at the mercy of the vendors as they dictate when they will be fixing bugs and adding features. Are you paying them for that? Here's a novel idea: What if we moved software to a performance-based model where you pay your vendor based on the level at which the software meets your needs? That would be a nice change. How about a tool that claims to increase your knowledge worker productivity and actually does so. Rather than charging royalties, they simply split the savings with you over the useful life of the product. If it works, it might be more profitable for the vendor and it will yield greater savings to the technology consumer.
The reason I find the complaints of those hemmed in by their vendors so offensive is that as they complain about their woes, they continue to put themselves in harms way. Why would you ever sign up for a product, service, or piece of hardware that locks you into a long-use cycle and potentially has you following decisions mandated by your vendor rather than your business. I am aware that there are certain tools out there that are necessary for certain industries (e.g., medical, and manufacturing) and require specialization, but what about other types of industries where needs can be met by a multitude of solutions. I can't emphasize this enough in the office suites; the release of OpenOffice.org 2.0 may have come and gone as has StarOffice 8.0 by the time you read this and with these new releases I expect that even more people will find an alternative to Microsoft's Office Suite.
The new paradigm of IT buying will be one where you buy services rather than licenses or at least support entitlements to IT products, and office suites are just one area of that. Also when looking for these gems I can see big opportunities in the following areas:
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