Convergence in Name Only

Winchester, VA – October 7, 2018 : The Information Technology industry has been marketing the concept of convergence for over ten years now, however depending on who you speak with, the term “convergence” has many different meanings. For some the meaning represents the consolidation of applications. For others it is the consolidation of networks. And now we see another idea of convergence being in the reduction of computing resources (a.k.a. data centers, servers and access devices). Each perspective of the meaning of convergence is valid, yet when one begins to dig into the actual work of accomplishing convergence, the results are less then acceptable.

Human nature does not like “change”. When our corporate culture gets locked into a specific pattern of operations and it yields success, we find ourselves enjoying the luxury of complacency. Too often we become blinded by the security of doing something a specific way that we view change as “risk”. The fear of the unknown has always been the biggest barrier to change. With that said, it should not come as a shock to find that in most cases of “so called” convergence success stories we find they are in name only.

The sad truth, however, is that without change you do eventually become irrelevant. Technology changes at unprecedented speeds, and those willing to adopt new technologies and re-engineer there business processes to take advantage of what the new technology can bring, often find themselves with unparalleled competitive advantages. Personally, I have been involved with the development of many Business Case Analysis (BCA) and Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) studies for the Department of Defense (DOD), as well as various corporations They all showed significant cost savings and cost avoidance opportunities through the introduction of new technology that delivered true technology convergence. This either in the form of network and/or application convergence. In the case of the DOD, by establishing a converged voice, video and data enterprise (which has been the vision of the Joint Information Environment for the last five years), it has been shown that this would deliver over $1B/year in cost avoidance. Yet, as we begin the fourth quarter of calendar year 2018, the DOD is no closer today of realizing a true converged voice, video and data enterprise than they were five years ago.

When one begins performing forensics on the cause of why leadership can’t seem to invoke change in something as mission critical as Information Technology, it becomes quickly apparent that those who see change as “risk” often have the power to induce “creep” into any and all efforts to change. There are also those who use the fear of change as a political tool to keep their way of life secure. This conservative thinking, while it may benefit the few, does inevitably cost the many.

As a subject matter expert in the area of technology convergence, I can assure you that the biggest barrier to “selling” anything that delivers true network, application or data store convergence is overcoming the customers’ fear of change.