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January 3, 2013

Well Placed Talent Can Cut Costs

By Dave Courbanou

Now that 2013 has arrived, most CIOs are busy executing strategies for the new year. Lists are likely to include cloud, mobility and IT modernization objectives — but one particular objective may be difficult to address: costs.

CIOs are building objectives around the milieu among C-level executives, customer demands, competitors moves and employee needs – and something will hit the chopping block. But instead of crunching budget numbers, this presents an opportunity to evaluate where investments in IT talent — not necessarily technology — can be made.

Sometimes investing in people can be a smarter choice than investing in the cloud.

In a recent NetworkWorld article, Juniper CIO Bask Iyer makes a salient point about the way to approach IT. Iyer offers an analogy of a music store shopkeeper able to offer information on various instruments and even play them. But, says Iyer, this is less valuable an asset than being Eric Clapton because, although Clapton may not know everything about individual instruments, he can play “Layla” on any guitar, anywhere he goes.

This analogy needs to play in the data center and within IT department investments. Consider that investing in “Layla” is the end-goal — not the technology that may or may not lead to that goal. In this way, CIOs can consider investing in talent to ensure “Layla” is always on-demand.

How does one apply this to an impending 2013 checklist?

Start simple: Determine whether it’s better to invest in internal or external talent to deliver the goal. Continue through with this process until most of all major goals have been solidified as either internally or externally driven. CIOs with a critical eye can discover spaces where objectives and needs overlap, which can conglomerate bigger moves into more cost-effective packages.

A CIO may want on-site IT talent to manage a new mobile device management solution. Having hands-on, on-premises IT may be more beneficial for business workflow and employee productivity, and that hat talent can come from a new hire or an investment into a willing individual already in IT. This may pay off in the long run instead of out sourcing, since in-house IT will already know the needs of workers.

When it comes to productivity software, investing in managed services provider talent could deliver a streamlined software experience that doesn’t waste the talent and training of on-site IT professionals.

In some ways, it’s about right-sizing a budget, not just shuffling around the dollars. Strategy, planning and deployment are a delicate balancing act. But if a CIO is careful in the orchestration of aligning talent with business objectives, the plan may not just cut costs, but build a true engine of IT efficiency that can power the business for years.

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