IT today: Unsustainable, unhealthy and just plain screwed?

If you thought the government was a mess, your IT department isn't much better. We've given away our innovation leverage to vendors.

If you read through Vinnie Mirchandani's book, The New Polymath, you frequently stumble on some statistically important zingers for the technology sector.

In between Mirchandani's tales of innovation lie a key message---IT has to change. And he's right. In a post, Mirchandani recounted the data points in the book, which I recommend, that lead him to conclude that IT as it stands today is basically screwed.

Here's the recap, which is well worth pondering:

IT is dangerously dependent on an external supply chain. Most enterprises spend 80 percent to 90 percent of their IT and telecom spending with outside vendors. What's it mean: IT buyers gave away their leverage and ability to innovate.

Buyer-vendor equilibrium is off. Since buyers gave away their leverage by consolidating their IT spending so they have no control over vendor product design and innovation. That state of affairs isn't promising since Mirchandani argues that large IT vendors aren't pushing the innovation needle anyway.

What IT is in-house isn't strategic. Enterprise IT workers are often support, database admins and network managers. These people are very important, but they are infrastructure support, not innovation support.

CIOs are consumed with control and compliance not innovation. We kind of knew that one already.

IT has its own bridges to nowhere and $600,000 toilet seats. Sure, the government is inefficient, but IT is too. Mirchandani points out that:

  • You can buy a terabyte of storage for less than $100 in a one-time payment. Enterprises are paying $100 or more per gigabyte over a three-year useful life. In other words, the enterprise pays 1,000 more for storage than the consumer.
  • Support and maintenance calls to a software vendor are so infrequent that they add up to $10,000 per call.
  • And don't get us started on things like printer ink and consultant travel time.

Add it up and IT is a mess. And chances are your IT organization is a disaster too. The big questions: What are you going to do about it? Where do we even start?

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