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Issue of March 2006 
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Measure this

Numbers are the product of counting. Quantities are the product of measurement. This means that numbers can conceivably be accurate because there is a discontinuity between each integer and the next. Between two and three there is a jump. In the case of quantity, there is no such jump; and because jump is missing in the world of quantity, it is impossible for any quantity to be exact. You can have exactly three tomatoes. You can never have exactly three gallons of water. Always quantity is approximate.

Gregory Bateson
(1904-1980), U.S. scientist, philosopher.
“Every Schoolboy Knows,” Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity, Dutton (1979).

In the glory days of the dot com boom everybody was talking about ripping out existing infrastructure and putting in fresh equipment. ‘Out with the old and in with the new’ was the rallying cry. When that boom imploded on its false foundations like a bubble of quicksand collapsing in on itself it took the ‘rip and replace’ concept with it.

Today it is a given that companies have to optimise their IT set-ups. They have to get benefits from IT, preferably tangible ones, measurable ones.

Which brings us to metrics for to optimise, first one has to measure. How are these to be defined, particularly when all too often CIOs tell us that benefits are hard to quantify but that they are still very much there. The way out is, perhaps, to get the input of the functional head whose department is going to be the candidate for an implementation. If a project’s going to affect the marketing department, the head of marketing is the best person to quantify what he or she expects from said project. It could be something as simple as an improvement in the rate of conversion of prospects after installing a SFA system. Or a support lead asking for a reduction in complaint resolution time after deploying CRM. Once you are in a position to measure the benefits (or lack thereof) of an implementation, that’s half the battle won.

Beyond measuring the success or failure of a deployment, what’s important is to think out of the box and come up with a solution that offers the biggest bang for the company’s buck. Technologies employed to this end include consolidation (nowadays everything can be consolidated—servers, storage, applications—you name it and there is sure to be someone offering a solution to consolidate it), spotting and removing bottlenecks (instead of doing forklift upgrades) and, of course, outsourcing your data centre on a build-maintain model.

Not only do we have features that talk about all these aspects of getting the most from your existing IT infrastructure, we also bring you case studies that highlight instances where innovative techniques have been used and IT departments have done the unexpected and been rewarded with a slew of tangible and intangible benefits as a direct result thereof. I leave you with the Network Magazine issue on Reorganising IT architecture.

Prashant L Rao
Head of Editorial Operations

 
     
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