European Football Dreaming and the Case for IT Transformation

Watching football the other night was very nostalgic for me. Having been a lifelong football fan, (or soccer to our friends across the pond), it was delicious to experience the build up towards a massive “European Night” for my team playing an “away leg” in Europe. It made me realise that this has been tantalisingly rare in recent years, and that in the 70’s and 80’s it was simply “business as usual”.

As I pondered this thought, the pre kick off adverts rolled, and I saw the new HP “Accelerating Next” advert, which I found fascinating. If you haven’t yet seen it, its really worth a look on YouTube:-

I was mildly amazed by its content, which for a moment made me drift back to those days in the 80’s. At the time I was a young sales guy working for Digital Equipment. For those of you too young to remember, DEC, as it was known, (Digital Equipment Corporation), were at the time a fabulously successful computer manufacturer who supplied all the on-board systems for Noah and his ark, (slight exaggeration!). However, through a series of steps, fuelled by ineptitude, ironically coupled with a stubborn failure to respond to a changing market, DEC are now only part of IT history and consigned to the “heritage” line for HP as it is today.

In those days, Digital was run by an enigmatic character called Ken Olsen, who used to manage us using a series of what I can only describe as “parables”. In the pre-VC world we used to receive a management booklet on a reasonably regular basis called, “Golden Eggs”, which was used to communicate strategy and management direction.

One particular submission of the time, which has stayed with me for years, was a quote attributed to, I think, Henry Ford:-

“If you need a machine and don’t buy it, then you will ultimately find that you have paid for it, but don’t own it”

 The quote seemed particularly timely, as the key “mantra” for most sales cases around computing was simply “increasing productivity through automation”. As I said in a recent blog, much of the automation battle has been fought, and that in any given vertical it is unlikely you will make more than a marginal advantage in productivity terms. The greater current risk is that your competition will become more ferocious through agility that will either allow them to take a new market opportunity more quickly than you, or simply change the rules of your market.

The whole challenger IT sector is characterised by this right now with Apple Pay, AirBnb, Uber, et al, changing the market rules, and leaving the incumbents struggling with legacies that really slow them down.

The HP advert really speaks of an understanding of this fact. The reason for my mild astonishment was that classically the vendors within our industry have been ferociously wedded to the “buy a bigger widget, go faster” mentality of old. This new HP message was how IT can be used to change outcomes and “Accelerate Next”. The only tiny flaw in the plan I guess, is that the answer will always be based on whatever is in that vendor’s portfolio; yet for me, it signals a significant change in approach for a vendor, nonetheless.

For Accordant, this has always been the “mantra” since formation. We enable companies, through clarity, to assess all available options of consumption, by coupling financial and commercial logic, as well as technical plausibility. We help companies balance the challenges of legacy, cost and future need, in a clear and pragmatic manner. We genuinely equip our clients to make the optimum solutions decisions that enable them to truly align their IT strategy with their business needs and strategy. We do this using our consultancy expertise and AccSL™ , (Accordant Solutions Library), quickly, accurately, consistently.

So with a step in the right direction for HP, perhaps we will see a new “wind” blow over the manufacturers, and a more current and balanced view of our clients’ needs break out.

I just hope that this fundamental change is also accompanied by a return to the “Glory Nights” of European football for my beloved team!