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Sell your CIO on helpful technologies

Want to get on your CIO's good side this holiday season? Here are some suggested smart technologies that might help your enterprise cut costs and help you score points with the boss.

Selling your CIO -- and delivering on -- the benefits of Windows 7, online services, business intelligence and virtualization software, mobility applications and even multicore processing can help ring in the New Year or even get you off the naughty list.

Take Windows 7's DirectAccess mobile technology, which, when used with Windows Server 2008 R2, eliminates huge VPN- related headaches for CIOs.

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David Stinner, president of US itek Group in Buffalo, N.Y., did it and said it has been a very positive move. "Some [of our clients] who did not use VPN due to the hassles, dropped connects and issues at hotels and airports are now always on the corporate network," Stinner said. "It is also a money saver for us [for managed services] clients under management because we have fewer support calls to help their sales staff with VPN."

Exploiting available business services in the cloud also make nice gifts, especially for CIOs who got burned deploying expensive business applications that yielded little ROI. Todd Swank, vice president of marketing for Nor-tech in Burnsville, Minn., suggested pitching Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite.

Deploying Microsoft's hosted messaging and collaboration services decreases Nor-tech's need to manage hardware and software on premise. Microsoft also offers administration center and sign-in services, Swank said. "Because Microsoft hosts the services, it reduces your company's need to maintain IT services on site," he said. Swank has not sold any yet but expects to. "I think this is going to be huge in 2010."

Hot desking -- where the employer furnishes a workspace or terminal link for a temporary worker -- is the answer to high IT costs, said David Crosbie, CTO of Leostream Corp., a virtualization software ISV in Waltham, Mass.

Up until now, hot desking has been hard to sell -- especially in the banks. But now it is pretty attractive compared to a cold desk in the street.
David Crosbie
CTOLeostream Corp.

Crosbie admits he has a bias toward virtualizing desktops but notes that reduced payrolls and consolidating offices makes his technology an easy sell to CIOs today. "Up until now, hot desking has been hard to sell -- especially in the banks. But now it is pretty attractive compared to a cold desk in the street," Crosbie said.

Andrew Brust, chief of new technology at TwentySix New York in New York City, said one way to score points is to demonstrate how a particular technology or product -- such as business intelligence software -- better uses the assets a company already owns. "One example is a well-focused business intelligence project that makes use of transaction data that is already sitting there," Brust said.

Another way, he said, is to explain the impact of a decision on the total cost of ownership if a purchase is not made, or how a task in a business process can be eliminated or shortened with a purchase. Point out that "if mainstream support is ending for a product version that would be replaced ... or do that math and calculate the saved time or opportunity cost/billing rate to show savings," Brust said.

There are some more exotic technologies that can make an impression.

Joe Vaught, executive vice president and COO at PCPC Direct Ltd., a Houston-based solution provider, said GPGPU is "the hottest thing I am working on. It is not for everyone, but you will be a leader if you use it."

GPGPU, or general purpose computation for graphics processing units, are graphics intensive multicore processors from name brands such as Nvidia that can be used to accelerate a wide variety of applications. ISVs whose applications exploit such parallel processing capabilities include Edge 3 Technologies' gesture recognition software and MirriAd's contextual, dynamic ad placement software for video content creators.

Still, Vaught and others emphasize that the best presents are those that yield a strong ROI and exploit existing assets. Vaught said those trying to sell a technology to a CIO should actually demonstrate the product value in person first before beginning the cost-to-value discussion.

Chris Maresca, a business and technology strategist in San Francisco, said finding ways to expand the use of smart phones and presence technology would also invite a nice holiday bonus. "Mobility is one of those hot things. There has been an explosion in the use of smart phones ... and yet, their capabilities are largely untapped, particularly when you think of it as 'situational awareness' -- in other words, knowing what is going on around you," Maresca said. "One of the big issues is that there is too much information and people are always on the move, so having the right information available when you need it is key."

Paula Rooney is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer.

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