Can IT spending shift from reactive to proactive?

Pity the poor IT department.Seriously. I feel for the IT departments out there, especially in this economic climate.

Pity the poor IT department.

Seriously. I feel for the IT departments out there, especially in this economic climate. It's hard to think of another department within a company that's been dealt more changes over the years than IT. It's no longer just a Windows PC and an e-mail account for every employee. Today, IT is supporting Macs and PCs, Blackberrys and iPhones, Salesforce and Oracle, VPN networks and overloaded and overheated servers. It's no wonder that IT budgets are among the largest within a company, a distinction that also makes them among the first to be identified for potential cutbacks.

I recently talked about the woes of IT with a company called Apptio, which bills itself as a provider of IT Cost Transparency solutions. Basically, that means that Apptio comes into your company and starts micro-analyzing the IT budget, staff and operations for the purpose of painting a true picture of IT costs. It gets into the granular data - the support tickets, the cost of licensing and maintenance, the workflow - and looks for trends to start identifying places where companies can improve their effiiciency. Apptio says that 73 percent of IT budgets today are spent "keeping the lights on," just meeting the daily demands of the network changes, hardware replacements, software patches and demanding people.


I often wondered if companies might actually save in the long run if they made solid investments instead of forcing one of its biggest-budget departments to support outdated equipment, sofware and even procedures. Maybe that's an unfair assessment but how would anyone know if it were right or wrong unless someone analyzed the data.

I realize that a lot of companies are using the big guys - the IBMs and HPs and such - to manage all of this for them. But for those who are trying to manage internally or determine where to best spend their investment dollars, taking a more detailed look at the big picture might be a good investment of time and money.

It makes sense to me - but I defer to our IT readers who live in this world day-after-day. I've never worked in IT, so I don't have first-hand experience there. But I know how my demands have changed over the years and can only imagine having to deal with 10,000 of me.

If you're working in IT, I want to hear from you. Would something like Apptio's offering would be helpful or just another expense? Do the execs really have a good understanding of what's driving the IT budget? Do you have ideas that you'd like to implement or pursue but are pushed back because of lack of time or money? I'd be interested in hearing your tales in the talkbacks.