BIZ SOLUTIONS:  EXTRACTING  POSITIVE  FROM  CRISIS

MANILA, APRIL 16, 2009 (STAR) EVERYONE KNOWS By Jane Carlos, ACTIVE BUSINESS SOLUTIONS INC. - ‘Deal with the crisis’ is perhaps the tallest order facing chief information officers (CIOs) nowadays since financial issues in industrialized markets sent shock waves during the last quarter leg of 2008. For some, facing the issues head-on is typically greeted with pessimism. Weak emotions run high when retrenchment headlines fill the dailies, more with digesting economic and corporate numbers that form part of a “painful” and final call.

For the sturdiest CIOs, however, crises beget opportunities for restructuring, especially in taking a closer look on operation aspects. With limited financial resources, CIOs run a thin line in deciding if investments are strategically placed in areas considered critical to the survival of the business, without necessarily sacrificing valuable people resources in the process.

Within the information technology (IT) arena, the sector has its share of the challenge call. Based on my interaction with CIOs, most of them uphold the belief that businessmen should not stop investing in IT, emphasizing that necessary infrastructure selection is still “critical” even when economies are in recession. Most of them also see that the first priority is adequately responding to uncertainties by mapping out initiatives, so when the recession ends, companies would not only own assets, but allow them to be more responsive with growth initiatives.

In the Philippines, many firms are constantly struggling to keep operations aloft when profit targets are considered. The other surprising view, however, is that most of these firms are getting rid of old storage machines and servers, and are working with consultants to allow them to upgrade to a more technically proficient system that can consolidate all processes they need to maintain. Through this “consolidation approach,” monthly maintenance dues are minimized, as well as support charges that need to be remitted when maintaining disparate systems. Simple math would also show that it would be more expensive to maintain a large staff that performs a fairly systematic work, which software systems could do. Lastly, data integration is uncompromised, as security structures are properly outlined.

Banks, for one, have underscored infrastructure consolidation. Sizeable savings can be achieved if several servers are integrated into a high-powered system that is easier to administer. Operational procedures are likewise simplified because hierarchy access within identified data channels is facilitated. For example, broad-based managers could adequately integrate services they administer, and allow them to properly assess risks per customer exposure. Meanwhile, contingency plans are also prepared with ease, especially when technical-related failures occur.

Getting personnel to perform “higher value-added” services is also addressed. CIOs who ride on this concept could re-route necessary functions within their organizational chain by deploying their workers’ efforts into more productive endeavors. As this scheme is integrated over time, companies not only benefit in terms of higher return on investments (ROI), but also open career growth opportunities for their personnel.

There are also other small and medium-sized companies that would look into outsourcing to save more and pay less. This approach is typically undertaken on a monthly basis scheme, depending on their overall contract with an outsourced partner. Through this scheme, CIOs could focus on their main business stream by passing on administrative functions to competent partners that could handle administrative management, purchasing, payroll or even inventory planning.

In the final tally, the decision on how to view crisis is what should count most. There is nothing permanent, except change. What makes the sizeable difference, however, is upholding the view to change for the better.

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The author is the senior account manager of Active Business Solutions Inc. For queries, e-mail her at jane.carlos@activebusiness.com.


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