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"IT has not invested enough in itself"

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CIOL Bureau
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He is responsible for driving overall revenue and profitability in the region and also leads the APJ Technology Solutions Group (TSG) which encompasses enterprise storage and systems, software, and services. Tom is a veteran with HP, having spent 24 years in various global and leadership roles at the company, including stints in the Americas and EMEA.

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Prior to his APJ appointment, he led Business Operations for TSG globally. In this role, he worked broadly across the value chain, businesses, and regions to identify and drive action plans for improving the financial and operational performance in TSG.

Pradeep Chakraborty, executive editor, CIOL, recently met up with Tom Iannotti to discuss issues such as integration of IT assets, adaptive infrastructure, etc. Excerpts from an interview:

CIOL: With the companies trying to co-relate information in order to enhance efficiency with minimized cost, interaction between multiple consoles and multiple management areas has become the need of the hour. This is the main driver for integration of IT assets. What has been HP's strategy to enable enterprises integrate their assets?

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Tom Iannotti, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Asia Pacific & Japan, HPTom Iannotti: CIOs today are required to do much more, and like they have never been. The power of value propositions comes from information assets. When we talk about integrating assets, I ask IT to be more accountable. All of these aspects are being asked of IT managers. We have gone full circle as far as titles are concerned.

CEOs are now expecting things of CIOs that they were never expected to. The CEOs of today are tech savvy. The level of knowledge and competency has also gone up. As an IT leader, you have the chance to transform business like never before.

The core of strategy goes back to the adaptive infrastructure/adaptive enterprise. You have the agility, the performance. The adaptive infrastructure helps the IT managers to do all of that. Expectation levels of companies have also gone up. Having tools to enable all of that is now possible as well. The adaptive infrastructure is something that you build. Consolidation is one of the first steps. Peak efficiency and compliance to standards are must. There is a getting-ready stage, which is very critical.

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CIOL: What is the biggest challenge while implementing an adaptive infrastructure?

TI: The most biggest challenge of an adaptive infrastructure is to understand what it does. Banks today are going through a lot of transformation. Insurance, perhaps, needs a more agile environment. The terminology, adaptive infrastructure is subject to interpretation.

IT has not invested enough in itself. Among our investments, we are excited because we have nurtured our IT infrastructure. Infrastructure is a fundamental need for businesses, which may not be very glamorous. You can't run an enterprise without a reliable, robust infrastructure.

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HP is clearly a leader in the infrastructure space. We have had a lot of success with telcos and also in BFSI. Healthcare is somewhat regional in nature, in terms of the nature of services that are provided. Hopefully, healthcare will become more global in nature.

CIOL: Enterprises are indulging in consolidation of their assets to achieve data integration and merger of business process with application technology to create a single business collaborative environment. How do you critically assess of this integration exercise?

TI: Touching on the nature of collaboration, IT would be called upon to make that possible. As an example, HP has design centers all over the world, which collaborate. We have also announced products in these areas.

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CIOL: Do you see integration of the various IT assets happening globally, and how does it compare with the scenario among Indian enterprises?

TI: Personally, I do not see a significant difference. The only difference is in not having a legacy environment. The integration of legacy systems is more of an Asian thing, but not in India. New entrants are more successful as they do not have legacy.

HP is also providing a great example with virtualization. It is very much heterogeneous. Our products are multiplatform, multicompany solutions. For the advancement of the industry, a multivendor environment is much better. HP has also been a leader in establishing multivendor environments.

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CIOL: What would you say are the main drivers for the integration of IT assets? Is security the key driver behind the integration, or are there other factors?

TI: The main drivers for integration of IT assets are cost and revenue. The integration of IT assets is all about how to take advantage from what you have got. For instance, at the end of the day, enterprises want to virtualize storage so as to reduce costs and enable serving their customers better. Storage is the easy, first step. However, it is not really a question of security or technology. It is more of a process of enabling IT.

For example, CIOs have challenges such as which applications to run. For instance, it may be easy for CIOs to decide on servers. Sometimes, they have to improve the service levels. Even then, sometimes we find that the servers are under-utilized. We need to invest in IT. Only then, can we deliver on an optimum environment.

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CIOL: What are the points that enterprises need to keep in mind during any implementation process?  What are the challenges associated with integration?

TI: People do need to have a rigorous plan. When we do an implementation, we need to have a thorough plan to manage it. Integration should not be people dependant. It is best to have a people-independent plan to implement a project. Planning and project management are prime. Projects generally fail because the planning or project management wasn't done properly. Therefore, superior execution of a project is more important.

When you have smart people leaving your company, you need to have a plan to address that. When you talk of a major integration process, there's a whole ecosystem involved. Hence, experience in project management and planning are prime.

CIOL: How much importance should enterprises pay to SaaS?

TI: Yes, SaaS is very important now. SaaS will cause the suppliers of software to think of different business models. Also, if the big software companies invest in software, they need to get back some returns as well.

CIOL: How has been HP TSG's growth and your APeJ strategy, including that for India?

TI: We don't have an APeJ strategy as such. We have an HP strategy, which we are executing in Asia. Our vision is to be the best in helping our customers manage their IT businesses. We want to be the best in helping our customers to be able to manage and transform. Our goal is to grow faster than the market.

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