Simple Questions, Complex Answers

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The CIO of very large organization recently spoke these words to me:  “If I knew what I had, I could make better decisions. The fact I don’t have that information probably surprises you.”  He was referring, of course, to understanding the hardware and software inventory of his organization. It reminded me of another comment by a leading ITAM analyst, Patricia Adams of Gartner, Inc.:  “Inventory is foundational. Ensure it is accurate.”

In 2010, this fundamental problem remains severe for many organizations. As organizations grow larger, the problem grows with them, often faster than the growth of the organization itself. There is no other management discipline—finance, operations, manufacturing—where we have such an enormous gap between the information required and the information provided.

The seemingly simple question, “How much Oracle do we have?” can have very complex answers. Too often, senior managers hear:  “We haven’t implemented that module yet. We need a few weeks to gather the data. We don’t have the resources to answer that right now.” Yet, decisions must be made regardless of the quality of information at hand. However, in a time where cost-cutting is so high on the agenda, many continue to do it blindly, without good information.

Incidentally, I was not surprised by the CIO’s comments. I hear it almost every time I visit a new prospect or network with CIOs and CXOs.