Business value: It's all about the applications

* How does the WAN add value to a company's key applications?

Information technology used to be a case of haves and have-nots. The "haves" were large companies whose employees could access the Internet, share files, access applications and send and receive e-mails. At that time, just having access to information technologies was a competitive differentiator. 

However, IT rapidly became a commodity that's accessible to all. As such, an IT organization can no longer claim to offer business value merely by providing access to a standard set of technologies.

One important measure of the current value of IT comes from the CIO's background. These days it is increasingly common to have a CIO who doesn't have a technical background. However, if the CIO does have a recent technical background, it is virtually always in applications and virtually never in networking.

Another important measure of the current value of IT comes from a company's business and functional managers. These managers are important because they often are the ones who fund IT based on their participation on IT steering committees and other forms of IT governance. These managers are quite clear - the business value of IT comes from the applications that they use on a regular basis and not from the network.

The business value placed on applications does not mean that wide area networking is without value. It does, however, mean that we need to continually find ways to identify how the WAN adds value to the company's key applications.  Future newsletters will explore this topic from both a technology and an organizational perspective.

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