Stick to virtual emotions when playing hardball

Get value from vendors

Make vendors earn your business. That's right, it's time to get tough and play hardball.

There are too many companies that don't even bother to look at alternatives, sticking instead with their current vendors which means getting stuck with current pricing. Maybe it's time to take a new approach.

In the past year, I have seen a string of local research reports that show Australian IT professionals tend to stick with what they know, and who they know.

If you're getting value then that's all fine and dandy but according to Gartner, many organizations are still over-spending, especially when it comes to networking.

Gartner analyst Bob Hafner estimates that globally, IT will waste $US100 billion over the next five years on network products and services.

This is because buyers often purchase, just-in-case network products, fearing requirements will grow. He says stick to buying what you need. For example, Hafner says don't waste money buying IP phones with large display screens.

Go for the cheaper models and spend the $150 to $350 savings on unified communications applications that will make employees more productive.

It also makes more sense to deploy a softphone that ties into the PC monitor.

Within five to 10 years, Gartner says desk phones will be gone forever, so why bother making the investment.

So what should you be buying? Hafner says WAN optimization tools not only reduce network traffic but are more cost-effective than buying bandwidth.

Hafner says savings can be spent on mobility and voice over WLAN.

But if playing hardball gets too tough, vendors can always escape to the virtual world.

And that's exactly what they did this week. Companies like IBM, Sun and Intel have entered the virtual realm by hosting events on virtual services like Second Life (http://secondlife.com/). The virtual world could become home to the new IT expo.

IT trade shows and conferences may never be the same again as these big technology firms look to MySpace and YouTube to reach customers in more interactive ways.

Sun held an event this week in Second Life which was presided over by Sun chief researcher John Gage and chief gaming officer Chris Melissinos.

They appeared in avatar form - an animated rendering that can move within the virtual world - to talk about a number of company projects.

A Sun pavilion was created with outdoor theatre, meeting spaces and kiosks and vidoes showing Sun technology at work.

IBM also hosted an event on Second Life while Intel created a MySpace page for Centrino.

IT vendors claim virtual worlds build better communities, not just revenue.

Intel spokesman Bill Kirkos, said: "Creating a more emotional aspect to our brand is really important to us, that's why we are embracing the social media world."

How emotional can we be about servers, chips and operating systems?

Are you playing hardball? E-mail sandra_rossi@idg.com.au

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