At an Innovation Forum organized by a university in São Paulo, a number of executives discussed the costs of automobiles and auto insurance in Brazil compared to other countries. During the discussion, one of them started explaining the costs of parts to the others, emphasizing the costs separately. I thought his approach to the issue was rather specific, and very similar to mine when I need to develop the subject of “convergent solutions” in meetings and speeches.
For the final consumer of automobiles, thinking in terms of “parts” is pretty surreal. Even though some automobile manufacturers have managed to attract the attention of the so-called ‘prosumers’ (consumers engaged in the process of coproduction, with interventionist approaches to the brands, information and means of communication), with the intention of them choosing and personalizing their cars, using predetermined parts, no one goes into a store thinking of buying a motor, wheels, brakes, etc., and taking everything home unassembled, to start trying out what works and what doesn’t. Or do you buy cars in kits?
In other industries, such as information technology, things are a little different. Even though, especially in Brazil, our sector is full of early adopters, there are still a lot of people in the market who prefer to risk it and purchase things separately, from different suppliers, and see what happens. This might seem a bit immature, but even so, there are lots of people (both amateurs and professionals) who think that by doing so they are “not dependent or tied to a single company or to a single solution”. And this doesn’t only happen in solutions bought to meet their demands at home. I have seen this over and over again in companies, including large ones and multinationals, run by market experts, and I think that, in some way, the issue of non-dependence is a very important point, but there are other issues that run through this issue that I believe these managers should consider.
The care needed in choosing new technological solutions includes guaranteeing that there is a long term strategy for the management, migration and adaptation to new demands and technologies. With the explosive expansion of data, you simply cannot find yourself dependent, that’s a fact; but at the same time, it doesn’t do to be stuck in a data silo.
This is why convergence is now a question of such fundamental importance. The integration, implementation and administration of different components from different suppliers requires time and expense, making the work of whoever provides IT support that much more difficult. To combat this problem, approved architectures are therefore necessary that offer different (or all that you need) pre-integrated components, and provide the best performance. Based upon open technologies, they contain applications that allow the management of work tasks in different virtualized and non-virtualized environments. These convergent solutions integrate computational capacity, connectivity and storage for a specific purpose (data base, virtualization, electronic mail, and so on). And this alone is a relief.
But there are other advantages to the adaptation of convergent systems and there are some elements that should be taken into account during the evaluation of the possibilities, such as complete automation and simplified support, for example. I won’t set out all my observations here, in this post, because I’d like to hear a bit of feedback and leave you motivated (and curious) enough to continue discussing the subject in the near future; but I have set out below what I consider to be the five main advantages of convergent architectures:
1) Less complexity – by eliminating architectures in silos, the IT sector is capable of concluding complete tests, in a short amount of time, so as to guarantee that the performance of the applications meets the requirements of the business;
2) Optimized performance – since they are pre-configured, firmly integrated and ready to use, thus automating the management tasks;
3) A much more effective support service for both internal and external clients – we have already shown that the substitution of silo technologies for a convergent infrastructure guarantees an increase in automation and a 30% reduction in operational costs
4) Support for data centers and extensive automation – through the creation of environments that are centralized and optimized for applications. The solutions can easily be configured and implemented according to organizations’ specific demands. At the end of the day, the fewer manual, time consuming and possibly damaging activities there are for the IT Department to perform, the better.
5) Capacity to operate in a cloud – the convergent solutions currently available on the market provide a flexible base for cloud computing that can be easily dimensioned.
The automobile industry in Brazil is still unable to reduce the costs of parts in order to offer cheaper cars, which, the specialists say, would reduce the price of insurance. The IT industry, on the other hand, is doing its bit, by providing solutions that really can resolve today’s biggest challenges. And this is what we at Hitachi call social innovation!