29 Oct Technology Investment in the Next 24 Months
It is clear that businesses today want to evolve their technology expenditures from mere business expenses into having a defined return on investment in a reasonable period of time. As legacy systems reach the end of their life cycles, CIOs and technology managers are focusing on a prioritized technology vision that addresses both business and employee needs.
Data and Voice Convergence
The convergence of voice and data to a single network is a prime example. As companies move offices, or age and grow within their current locations, networking technologies must grow with them. Legacy PBX phone systems will eventually reach a point where the cost to maintain them outweighs the benefits of continued operation. IP telephony is the next-generation technology that provides the ability to converge the voice and data networks, driving immediate cost savings in both the support of the system and the cost of inter-office calls, especially if the company has international locations. Beyond the cost savings, productivity increases dramatically through the ability to extend mobility of the phone to remote locations, allowing flexibility in employee schedules and ease in portability.
Another exciting feature of IP telephony is the ability to extend corporate computing resources to the desktop phones. IP telephony, as an extension of the corporate computing network, allows full integration of data and applications onto the phone itself. This has significant implications in the areas of customer service and employee communication. Berbee Information Networks has built applications such as InformaCast, which was recognized as a critical need by the federal government to support homeland security. It allows users to broadcast both voice and data messages through the phone in case of emergency or for other announcements or communication purposes
Microsoft Operating System Upgrade
Microsoft is about to release a major, new upgrade to its core operating system infrastructure. The new systems offer many enhancements to further leverage the Microsoft Office suite of products to provide better remote access for users that travel, tighter integration to web-related infrastructure, and improved usability through integrated applications. Customers on older versions of Microsoft’s core infrastructure will be likely candidates to refresh desktop infrastructure to take advantage of the new capabilities.
For many businesses, another consideration for increased ROI on technology investments is targeted outsourcing of critical functions. As remote access and high availability become the norm rather than the exception, targeted outsourcing becomes an attractive alternative. Web accessibility of core applications is driving unprecedented customer and employee requirements for 24/7 support, access and availability. The cost of providing this is extremely high, making targeted outsourcing an attractive solution. Companies focus on their strengths, while allowing outsourcing vendors to provide proactive support of key systems.
A good example here is the maintenance of e-mail. Meta Group predicts that corporate inbound unsolicited e-mail will grow from 40% to as high as 70% within the next year. Coupled with viruses, blasters, and worms, the amount of time operations professionals are spending on spam control and security has skyrocketed. A CIO must weigh the benefits of continuing to throw money and resources at the problem versus looking for a provider that can control spam and ensure e-mail reliability in a secure data center environment.
Beyond email, enterprise outsourcing also remains a hot topic. For many of the same reasons, pulling operational excellence to your business can be accomplished by using third-party expertise. Effectively planned outsourcing can be a key to increased profits. Poorly planned, it can drive significant costs and turmoil. Technology professionals must fully understand their current costs and business goals before being able to evaluate an outsourcing opportunity.
Paul Shain is President and COO of Berbee Information Networks Corporation. Prior to joining Berbee, Mr. Shain was Managing Director and Director of Research for Robert W. Baird & Co., Incorporated. Mr. Shain serves on several advisory boards, including Fiduciary Management Incorporated, The Madison Area Technical College Foundation, Associated Bank of South Central Wisconsin, UW-Madison School of Business, Broadjam Inc., and Madison Opera. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.