No, this is not a post about recycling cans. Nor is it about Ross Perot's view on NAFTA.
It is about how CIOs are crunching their "Utility" IT spend and freeing up more and more for their "Innovation" spend. And also reducing their overall IT budgets to keep their CFOs off their backs.
What is "Utility"? Broadly, any Infrastructure product introduced over 18 months ago, and any Software or Services offerings introduced over 3 years ago. Most vendor investments in these products should have been recouped.
What is "Innovation"? See this gallery of innovations. Varies by industry and company, but it is often beta quality implementations of emerging technology, content rationalization or process delivery - somewhat risky, but nothing like the $ 100m write-offs of the past. And those with huge business payback for the buck. Yesterday, it was rolling out RFID tags and PDAs to mobile sales forces and WI-FI campuses. Today, it varies from more sophisticated tools to capture knowledge from aging workforces to predictive data mining to BPO in a number of areas. Tomorrow, biometrics and grid computing. Note - this tactical, but high payback Innovation, not that over-hyped concept - Strategic Advantage through technology.
Most incumbent vendors provide Utility support. They need to find ways to reduce their portion of the budget by 50 to 70% over the next few years
So if you are Oracle, think about annual maintenance at single digit rates, not 22%. CIOs, from their own offshoring experiences, know what Oracle has saved from growing its staff by thousands of employees in low cost markets like India.
If you are SAP as you seek large mySAP upgrade fees, be prepared to price your core FI/CO, MM, SD functionality at $ 300 a production user. You recouped that investment a long time ago. If not, you are encouraging CIOs to look closer at BPO offerings which offer less maintenance/upgrades hassle and a lot lower TCO.
If you are EDS or Accenture, learn to make money at $ 75 an hour, not $ 200 as you try to sell "transformational" outsourcing.
If you are IBM and serious about On-Demand make it reflect Utility economics and service levels
If you are Sun, explain why you deserve a premium over Linux pricing
If you are Gartner, discount your research pricing on Utility spend by 75% and move to pay for results if you can help crunch the Utility spend
Internal IT staff - if you expect premiums and bonuses work on Innovation projects.
Yes, even low-cost offshore vendors like Infosys - quit dreaming of 10% annual rate increases if you are primarily delivering Utility support.
On the other hand, it should be great for the industry as a whole as money frees up for Innovation. More money for start-ups and for intrepid incumbents. Remember, though that the CIO is learning how to crunch value so 3 years from now, he/she will have Utility expectations of what is today's Innovation.
Even in the Utility areas, efficient vendors should benefit. As Southwest has shown in the airline industry, at fair, predictable prices traffic increases and you can fill 130 passenger 737s on routes where your competitors were flying 40 person commuter planes. Well run Offshore vendors have 15 to 20 % better gross margins than US peers even at their much lower rates.
Also, may not technically count as Innovation, if as a vendor you can crunch Utility spend even quicker - through use of open source, offshoring, blade servers, VoIP, shared services, BPO efficiencies, tier consolidation, magic, whatever - the CIO's door is open.
Most CIOs are tired of jokes that their title stands for "career is over". They are pushing to be repositioned as Chief Innovation Officers. Utility vendors - work with CIOs or prepared to get crunched. Innovation vendors - build your economics around dynamic products and controlled risk, not "lock-in" relationships. And yes, IBM, SAP, Oracle, Accenture...you can be both types of vendors if you just try...