Resolved: Things go better with IT

The best organizations spend more per user on IT -- and pay their IT staffers better

I recently got my hands on a PowerPoint deck from a research firm I hadn’t heard of, the Atlanta-based Hackett Group. Of course I immediately thought of Buddy Hackett, who would have made a great IT analyst, but this is a different Hackett.

The prezzo, a partial summary of which can be found on The Hackett Group’s site, starts off as a snoozer, crammed with benchmarking metrics on corporate finance departments and liberal use of phrases like “top quartile” and “process taxonomy.” But then it gets interesting.

“World-class organizations” spend more per end-user on IT than their peer group, its deck says -- in fact, 10 percent more. And interestingly, they do it with 28 percent fewer IT staff, while paying that skeleton crew 32 percent more. The deck also claims world-class organizations make greater use of both shared services and outsourcing, resulting, for example, in lower IT infrastructure costs per end-user. Of course I didn’t see the underlying data, so this could be hooey. But at the very least, it means there’s starting to be a market again for analysts who are bullish on IT -- and that’s gotta be a good sign.

Bruised But Still Used IDC had the nerve this holiday season to publish a study questioning the future dominance of e-mail, my favorite medium for receiving the world’s detritus. “E-mail faces significant challenges from real-time communications, such as instant messaging, and from parasites, including viruses and spam,” IDC writes, acknowledging, however, that e-mail is still the undisputed king of the hill, expected to exceed 3.5 exabytes worldwide in 2006. (Note: 1 exabyte = 1 thousand petabytes = 1 million terabytes = 1 billion gigabytes = a lot).

Although e-mail is still holding its own (except among teenagers and in “fast paced work environments”), ICD predicts e-mail’s future success will hinge on delivering better value throughout its life cycle (from creation to deletion) at lower cost, providing better access from multiple devices, and raising the level of e-mail content to that of other enterprise application data.

On a personal note, I’m thinking about a new approach to e-mail in 2006. Currently, I start my day deleting a couple hundred of the key spam varietals (porn, PR, interest rates, work-at-home schemes, ED drugs, phishing, and seasonal -- think “gift card” and Xbox solicitations). Maybe I’m losing my mind, but I’m thinking about turning over a new leaf and starting to read the stuff, looking for gems of wisdom and potential. Maybe the world is trying to tell me something. Maybe I do want to go to that rave in LA tonight. Maybe “my future business” will need “an impressive logo.” The future is exciting and opportunity is everywhere. Happy New Year to all and have a great 2006!