IT Infrastructure: Paving the Way to Transformation

Samuel J Palmisano, Chairman and CEO of IBM penned a very prescient opinion column, Let's Spend on Broadband and the Power Grid, in a Wall Street Journal column from earlier last week where he implores that we "seize this opportunity to create more and better jobs, cultivate valuable skills, and not simply repair but prepare our economy for the 21st century….This view is grounded not in the headlines of the moment, but in the facts of what is now possible technologically for businesses of all sizes."

IBM recently mapped how "smarter infrastructure is by far our best path to creating new jobs and stimulating growth" at the request of Obama's transition team. Palmisano writes "...our research shows that a $30 billion stimulus investment in just three areas -- smart grids, healthcare IT and broadband (the US ranks 12th in broadband penetration and 15th in speed) -- could yield almost one million new jobs in one year." He explains that "these kinds of infrastructure have significantly greater economic and societal multiplier effects than traditional infrastructure like bridges and highways".

There are clear parallels here to the infrastructure of spend management. There's a collective tendency to either hunker down or flail at our existing systems when the going gets rough -- the old fight or flight mechanism. Both are equally destructive to organizational performance. Now is the time to evaluate existing systems and commitment with regard to maximizing visibility at all levels of spend. Palmisano concludes "Will the U.S. make investments in our future whose impact is not just additive, but exponential?" With more negotiating leverage than ever before, it would be crazy not to -- on all fronts. Spend management -- in both the private and public sectors -- included.

Jason Busch

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