With all the doom and gloom surrounding the current world financial imbroglio, its easy to take a pessimistic view about spending on information technology for the next few years. Indeed, recent work by Forrester indicates that more than 40 per cent of large businesses have cut their IT budgets this year because of the global economic slowdown.
But, a discussion I recently had with Bill Hilf, Microsofts Corporate Vice President, Servers and Tools Business, provided a refreshing outlook.
Bill told me that from his recent travels, he has found that people are indeed seeing the down-turn in IT buying, but he says they dont believe that it is going to be the long term trend. Government deals and financial services; those havent changed. This is the messge Bill says hes getting from Microsofts macro trending, IDC data, Intel data, AMD data, and information from partners.
In Bills colourful words, Most large enterprises have to have ballast in the boat to drive through these types of storms. But, he told me, the credit crunch has driven Microsoft to put more focus and attention than ever on explaining near term total value.
The pressure point now, is total cost of ownership. Bill says that people now want to know what their return on investment will be in six months, rather than the previous view which was four to five years out. And, not surprisingly as Microsoft has recently launched a global foray targeting VMwares virtualization dominance, Bill says that the number one accelerator of this shorter term perspective is virtualization, because you can immediately attach it to a power bill. And power bills come with regularity. They dont miss.
This personable Microsoft marketer advises enterprises to find technology that will help you get through this. He says that it mainly boils down to attitude whether you see the glass as half full, or half empty. If you look at it through technology as my cost burden, and believe you must go and slash your cost burden. You are going to be exactly where you were three years ago, says Bill. Of course, he would say that, because hes currently on an Asia-wide roadshow, promoting Microsofts latest products relating to High Performance Computing. Bill maintains that HPC is no longer an expensive luxury, but has become affordable and accessible to man enterprises. The clever enterprises, he says, are taking advantage of the current gloom to ferret out the very best deals; to grab the best bargains.
Enterprises have a choice, Bill says, whether to be victims of the current circumstance, or pro-active and strategic decision makers alert to opportunities.
Many Americans are known for always seeing the world through rose coloured glasses, but I must admit, I was impressed by Bills considered views. As the old saw goes Politics is perception and human psychology is certainly influencing the current global economic crisis. Cool heads always win and entrepreneurs see opportunity where others see disaster.
Ross O. Storey, currently the Managing Editor of Fairfax Business Media Asia, is responsible for the editorial content and production of MIS Asia, CIO Asia, Computerworld Singapore and Computerworld Malaysia magazines.
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