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Strategic Initiative or Overhead? How You Position Your Storage Project Can Make All the Difference


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An article written by Linda Stadtmueller, Program Director, Business Communications Services. To read the whitepaper, please visit

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Strategic Initiative or Overhead? How You Position Your Storage Project Can Make All the Difference

  1. 1. Strategic Initiative or Overhead?How You Position Your Storage Project Can Make all the DifferenceThe past decade has been a heady time for business IT professionals. As companies have rushed toadopt new, productivity-enhancing technologies (e.g., smartphones, social networking, collaborationand analytical tools), the role of the IT department has shifted from workhorse to strategic resource.No longer simply a support organization that works on behalf of other departments, IT now leadsthe initiatives that support achievement of corporate goals.And yet, within IT departments, the dirty little secret is that the majority of time and resource isspent on maintenance activities. There’s nothing sexy about storage upgrades or database backups;nothing that will earn the CIO a spot on the agenda at a board meeting. As a result, IT leaders tendto focus on more strategic activities, and downplay storage.This is a bad idea—for two reasons. First, we all know that mindshare and funding go to strategicinitiatives, those that are perceived to grow the business. By allowing storage to fall into the“overhead” category, you’re dooming your projects to be underfunded and understaffed.Secondly, you’re wrong. In our data-driven business world, making data accessible should bea top priority for any business. And it’s your job to help your colleagues and business leadersunderstand that efficient storage solutions that support revenue-generating applications will improveproductivity and reduce costs company-wide.This may be a difficult communication task for IT managers who are accustomed to letting storagefly under the radar. It’s likely that you’ve been getting by for years hoping no one will notice theannual budget increases and hardware purchases that have enabled you to handle the rising tide ofdata, at least for now. But, to deal with the exponential data growth, you will need to revamp yourstorage infrastructure to increase efficiencies—and you won’t get buy-in to do that unless youactively campaign.Here are three tips for positioning storage as a strategic initiative: Show how optimized data storage can give your company a competitive edge. If knowledge is power, then the company that is best able to capture, analyze, and learn from its data is poised to capture the market. As an IT leader, you’re in the ideal position to support or lead efforts to improve business processes through automation and analytics. For example, to better compete in the market, manufacturing may implement a sophisticated quality monitoring system; marketing may expand customer database analytics; and finance may revamp its systems to better enable compliance. But, without the appropriate storage infrastructure in place, you won’t gain the expected value from your data monitoring, analytics, and reporting efforts. Be sure to emphasize the need for efficient storage solutions to support your business process automation and business analytics initiatives. Tie your storage efficiency projects to business objectives. Is your company focused on revenue attainment? Show how improved inventory and customer databases can accelerate the sales cycle. Are you all about productivity increases? A comprehensive, integrated storage©2011 Stratecast. All Rights Reserved. A Technical Brief Sponsored by IBM
  2. 2. solution will improve system response times, resulting in measurable productivity increases for many employees, including those in operations, contact centers, and the IT Help Desk. If your company is looking to cut costs, your storage efficiency projects can help there as well. Demonstrate the math: storage reduction and virtualization enable you to maximize use of existing hardware, deferring or avoiding new purchases while increasing the total volume you’re storing. Broaden your scope. Let’s be honest. To the senior leadership team and your colleagues in other departments, your quest to revamp storage may have all the appeal of installing a closet organizer. Maybe it is more efficient—but is it really important? To gain the attention of these skeptics, your best approach is to tie your storage initiative to a broad-scoped, transformational project. For example: many companies will overhaul their storage when they do a major software system transition—e.g., implementing an ERP suite. Others are tying the effort to compliance or security initiatives. By linking the storage project to other initiatives that are already supported (and funded) as critical to business growth, you will improve your chances of success.The truth is: data storage is a mission-critical function, one that deserves a place on the list of topcorporate initiatives. Your ability to communicate its value to your company executives can helpassure you the support you need to do it right.Lynda StadtmuellerProgram Manager – Business Communication ServicesStratecast (a Division of FROST & SULLIVAN)©2011 Stratecast. All Rights Reserved. A Technical Brief Sponsored by IBM