Magazine Article | September 1, 2002

There Is No Tomorrow

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Every company is trying to save money. But if you're not willing to spend money now, you might not be around long enough to open your wallet again.

Integrated Solutions, September 2002
Ed Hess

I was fumbling through the glove compartment of my car the other day when I stumbled upon the requisite dealer-supplied owner's manuals buried under similarly useless debris. The manuals aren't useless, per se, just useless in my hands. Besides changing the oil every 3,000 miles, there wasn't much on the routine maintenance checklist for me to check. Rotate the tires and check the pressure? That sounds vaguely familiar. I'm sure I planned to do those things when I rolled the car off the lot three years ago. Anyway, the car is running fine, so why change anything?

I suspect many of you are in similar situations when it comes to your enterprise applications. You know that investing in improving applications and processes will save you money. But when it comes time to pony up the time and money for installing a new air filter, suddenly you can live with your current performance.

Where's Your Commitment?
I hear an awful lot from end users that ROI is critical when they decide to invest in technology. Of course it is; otherwise, there's no sense in stroking a check. ROI is not the problem. Deciding to make the investment is the real hurdle.

The fact that bar codes and handheld scanners are not ubiquitous in manufacturing and distribution sites, for instance, is not a comment on the technology's ROI. Instead, it's a comment on the end user companies that are not willing to spend money to save money. That's the real issue facing companies today. The ROI is there. The commitment to invest in new technology isn't.

If You're Looking, ROI Is Easy To Find
As you enter the fourth quarter of 2002, consider the cost to your company if you continue to put a hold on IT projects. That warehouse management system (WMS) may run you six figures, but it will pay for itself in a time frame that can be measured in months. That bar code labeling project you shelved a few months back will only put you further behind the eight ball when your much larger business partner comes calling with compliance issues. The field service paperwork you swore to eliminate is piled up higher than you could have imagined. The justifications for implementing new technologies are still there. And, the longer you delay these projects, the more money your company continues to throw away.

IT folks talk these days of a cultural shift from IT as a budget drain to IT as a revenue producer. I back that sentiment, but it doesn't happen by standing still. It's true that some of the glitzy e-commerce projects that consumed everyone's attention at one time will not be revived anytime soon. Reducing inventory and more effectively managing stored data may not have the cachet of B2B exchanges, but that doesn't make these projects any less valuable. In fact, they're more valuable. These types of investments offer tangible results that can be seen at dozens of reference sites.

I can live with getting one less mile per gallon from my car. That doesn't gnaw at me. If my company was bleeding money through inefficiencies, however, I don't think I could go one more day without making a change. Look within and outside of your industry to see the returns other companies are reaping from tactical technology investments. Keep in mind that there's no sense going broke trying to save money. So, choose wisely and invest.

By the way, my car won't be around in another five years. Will your company?