CIO - Ah, the complexities of simplicity. The word conjures up Zen-like notions of easy understanding, natural approaches and intuitive use. Like when I recently watched a 2-year-old march over to the TV set and try to change channels by swiping her chubby fingers across the screen (just like Daddy does with his smartphone). Imagine how disappointed she'll be when she tries to work the ridiculously complex remote control (which even most grown-ups can't figure out).
In today's consumer-dominated business world--where CIOs look to deliver "Apple-simple" office tools requiring no training--simplicity has become a code word for speed, flexibility, agility and success.
"This is about killing complexity. As you do, you get faster," says CIO Charlene Begley of General Electric, one of the IT leaders interviewed for our cover story (" CIOs in Search of IT Simplicity") "It's about competitiveness." Simplifying IT operations and processes is one of Begley's four strategic imperatives for IT, as she strives to halve the number of GE data centers and lop out 85 percent of its ERP systems by 2016.
In talking with IT executives at GE, FedEx and McDonald's for this story, Senior Editor Kim S. Nash discovered how very complicated efforts to achieve simplicity can be. CIOs and business leaders must identify what to prune, then finance and staff the project, then make more plans "to stop complexity from snaking its way back in," she writes. "It's an ongoing battle, but one that could be worth millions to win."
Yes, millions. When researchers at The Hackett Group compared high-performing companies to average ones, they noticed that the typical firms were running twice as many data centers as the world-class ones, which also run fewer applications and at lower cost.
At FedEx, complexity reduction is "the largest theme we're working on," says Kevin Humphries, senior vice president of IT. He recently opened a new data center that will serve as the $39 billion company's main IT facility, even though it's one-third the size of the one it replaces. "You would be shocked to see the walls and walls and walls of excruciating detail to make something very complex end up simplified," Humphries told us.
As desirable as IT simplification sounds, such efforts often fail--and ironically, it's because they lack detailed (that is, sufficiently complex) plans. How are you dealing with the complexity of simplicity at your company these days? Write in and let us know.
Maryfran Johnson is the editor in chief of CIO Magazine & Events. Email her at email@example.com.
Read more about it strategy in CIO's IT strategy Drilldown.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- What Datapipe customers need to know about the new PCI DSS 3.0 compliance standard This handy quick reference outlines what PCI DSS 3.0 is, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the new...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- The Critical Role of Support in Your Enterprise Mobility Management Strategy Most business leaders underestimate the importance of tech support when they choose an EMM solution. Here's what to put on your checklist.
- Separating Work and Personal at the Platform Level: How BlackBerry Balance Works BlackBerry® Balance™ separates work from personal on the same mobile device, right at a platform level. Find out how it can work for...
- Live Webcast Best Practices for the Hyperconverged Enterprise Network To the Age of Constant Connectivity and Information overload
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of... All Networking White Papers | Webcasts