Tom Nolle
Tom Nolle is the president and founder of CIMI Corporation and the principal consultant/analyst. Tom started his career as a...
Read Full Bio >>

Tom Nolle | January 23, 2009 |


Could EA Save Tech Spending?

Could EA Save Tech Spending? Tech in general is underperforming, and has since the bursting of the bubble. The reason may be the biggest surprise of all.

Tech in general is underperforming, and has since the bursting of the bubble. The reason may be the biggest surprise of all.

It probably won't surprise anyone to hear that UC has underperformed versus hopes and predictions, even leaving aside the economic crisis. It probably won't surprise anyone to hear that this year isn't likely to be an improvement. What may be surprising is that tech in general is underperforming, and has since the bursting of the bubble. The reason may be the biggest surprise of all.Tech spending is based on basic cost/benefit analysis, and that's always been clear. If you look at how IT spending has varied over the last 50 years, you can see a deeper truth, which is that major tech paradigms create a fixed set of benefits that justify IT investment. At some point, the features that grab new parts of this fixed benefit set have grabbed them all, and the market falls into price differentiation until a new tech paradigm unlocks new benefits and starts the process over. We've seen two complete cycles of this in the last five decades, and the problem is that we're not seeing the third.

Today's technical revolution is the notion of composable IT and network resources, stuff that can be tuned to the way everyone works. That promises higher productivity, but it's also a lot more complicated than the old messages of "buy a computer and become more productive." Enterprises couldn't get their heads around the whole SOA-and-mashup thing, and so they have not tapped the new benefits. As a result, IT spending didn't pick up when the old personal-computing-driven strategy cycle ended in 2001. It's stayed at about 80% of the long-term average rate of growth ever since, an unprecedented lag.

"Architectures" are the things that define the relationship between technology elements and business benefits, and that assure optimal integration of technology pieces. Some industries have had architectures to define their IT for generations (service providers use the old OSS/BSS stuff), but Enterprise Architectures are a newer thing, and actually likely more a response to compliance and accounting issues than to productivity gains. But if we could get a good EA understanding out there, it could help buyers grab those new benefits, and thus buoy up spending.

The problem with EA today, according to the enterprises I survey, is that it's too theoretical. We have "layers" that create "models" and define "practices" and all of that takes years to organize, years in which nothing is paying the bills of tech companies. Interestingly, enterprises have their own inherent view on what EA should be, and it's even a view that UC can fit into. It's just not very interesting to vendors so far.

Enterprises see EA as a four-layer structure that I'll call "MTOT." The letters are an acronym for the layers involved. "Missions" are at the top, defining what the business wants to do in its chosen markets. "Tasks" are the next thing, the way that the business divides the responsibility for meeting the mission goals among its workers. "Operations" is the third and key layer, the layer that binds technology resources to those tasks effectively, and "Technology" is the foundation layer.

The MTOT view of EA recognizes two very specific technology goals. The first is to create composable views of both information and services at the point where the Tasks and Operations layers meet. This is the "mashup" point, and it's also where any UC activities need to be focused. By making the binding of technology to tasks more effective and more flexible, more productivity benefits are realized. The second is the creation of technology services instead of technology applications, to optimize the boundary between Operations and Technology. Tech planners build tools to present to Operations, which molds those tools to support workers.

EA apologists will protest that MTOT is completely compatible with EA, which it is. The problem is that EA hasn't developed any convincing connection with a benefit case. All too often it's "progress" only in the sense of having momentum toward a given goal, not in the sense of proving any business value to that goal. Even in good times, enterprises didn't find that compelling and they sure aren't going to find it compelling now.

Could it be that UC and other industry mantras have a similar problem? Could we be building layers of technology and complexity and abstraction to the point where the purpose of the process-provable productivity gains on a scale to justify cost-has been lost? For the last 20 years, networking has been an "accepted benefit," something you did because it was the right thing to do. The "rightness" was due to the fact that for a long period of time, business was "under-connected," so the simple validation we had was not only sufficient to win buyers, it was valid. We are not in that world any longer, and we're never going back to it.

If we could make something MTOT-ish work, and if we could get enterprise IT investment back to the levels it had in past strategic cycles, the process could put over one hundred billion dollars back into tech spending in the US over the next four years. It could create an impact on tech bigger than the stimulus package being proposed. The fact that we have never had a lull like this is proof we don't have to be in one now, but abstract thinking isn't going to bring us out, be it called "EA" or "UC."

Every incremental dollar enterprises spend has to be justified by a concrete business case. Models and architectures to do that are helpful only if they have both a persistent linkage to the prize of benefits down the road and a linkage to the assets already in place. Enterprises believe it can be done, and their "MTOT" collective vision proves that. We must now prove we can do it.Tech in general is underperforming, and has since the bursting of the bubble. The reason may be the biggest surprise of all.


Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem

Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

November 29, 2017

As video conferencing use rises in the enterprise, businesses are looking for ways to bring this technology out of traditional conference room and make it more broadly accessible. That's made the h

November 1, 2017

Your customers (internal and external) demand that you offer them the ability to connect by any means. With the adoption of cloud communications tools you now have access to an expanded portfolio o

October 18, 2017

Microsofts recent Ignite event had some critically important announcements for enterprise communications. Namely, Microsofts new Team Collaboration offering, Teams, will be its primary communicatio

October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.