IS-t in an Economic Crisis

Information Solutions - technology, is a simple way of expressing that the IT department is there to serve the needs of the client facing business. The current enterprise that I’m working at is the first massive global organisation that I’ve worked with. 130,000 odd employees throughout the world, with about a quarter of that in the APAC region. I’m proud to say that the IS-t teams that I work with on a daily basis are excellent people, as are the people from other departments that I’ve had dealings with. Honest hard working people, just trying to do the best they can at their jobs.

Belief and evidence led me to believe enterprises move pretty slowly. Despite that things can change pretty rapidly up here, there is a level of adaptability that I’d not expected to find. A mission that IS-t should be an enabler for change, not an excuse that it is all too difficult. Things have been booming in the last ten or so years. A colleague has a graph on his wall showing the steady climb in the amount of employees that have been added to the ranks in Australia.

There was money, and there probably still is, but something changed a little while back. The negligence of the US property market (and other factors I don’t try to fathom) has sent the world spiraling into a recession. All of a sudden the extravagance of the last decade is thing of the past.

Business class flights are out the window for all but the highest of managers, and furthermore, travel itself only happens as an absolute necessity. Perhaps that’s the way it should have been all along. On Tuesday we had the largest video conference that the IS-t department has ever done. People from the Infrastructure side of IS-t came together in a massive video conference that brought the whole APAC region into the one room. It wasn’t free but it was a damn sight cheaper than flying them here, or having them continue to work on their own and duplicate resources.

After all the scene setting I’ve done above, this is the real meat. There are steps being taken to eliminate the duplicity that has been taking place. No longer will there be 5-10 efforts to manage the desktops and laptop images (the standard set of software installed on machines), and why should there be? Sure it means a lot more work for the people in the Desktop team, moving from managing the computers of 5000 people to 30000 people, but there is an economy of scale. One or two people are assigned to create the image (or fix the image), and the people from other regions that were duplicating this effort can do other things, which does not mean redundancy. There is always too much work and too few people.

Technology has long passed the point where it is possible to work effectively across countries. My own responsibility, the Document Management System, is a part of this. Tools that allow you to collaborate effectively on the creation of documents, and create workflow processes that allow the steps taken when dealing with content, to be distilled.

The global economic crisis has changed a lot of things. Budgets that were a foregone conclusion have been reevaluated. This isn’t a bad thing, good economic times breed weakness. Rather than being smart about things, taking the easy way out because if you throw enough money at the problem will eventually go away.

I say bring on the chance to be leaner. The chance to prune to weak.