IT Services
Suppliers gain by perpetuating flaws


IT vendors have created a continuously renewing market for defective products, according to the vice chairman of Elite.

IT Services

Fed up with all those suppliers asking you what the critical IT issues facing you today are? Maybe you share my experience: I always tell them, but they never go away and fix them.

I’m just too naive. I used to think that the reason for asking the question was to be helpful, and that maybe they would go away and actually do something about it. But that is clearly not the case.

There has to be another motive. Having thought about this for a while, I’m convinced that I’m edging towards the answer.

Could it possibly be that the real reason is to make money any way they can? Are they really asking: “How can I make money by selling you another product that papers over the critical issues you define?”

If they do that, then they never attack the source problem and simply create a continuously renewing market for defective products.

It’s probably the best marketing scam ever invented and the problem is that it’s totally legal. Or am I too cynical?

Take that old problem of security. We have had security issues since before computers were invented. All computers do is make the problem bigger.

So why aren’t the safeguards designed and built in? Is it really totally unexpected that cranks will get a perverse pleasure out of trying to infiltrate our systems and sending nuisance mail?

Kids have been trying to do things like that since time immemorial – show them a padlock with an interesting looking door and they try to get in.

Clearly the software manufacturers we buy from haven’t considered the basic human reaction to a challenge, which is to overcome it.

As a result, we have built up a mini industry of virus checking, intrusion detection systems and software patching. Did I say mini? I meant enormous.

The cost to UK plc of all of this totally unnecessary defect management capability is unbelievable. Think what we could achieve if that skilled resource was available to allocate to value-added work.

In fact, if that resource was directed towards testing some of the software we’re sold, then the returns to UK plc would truly be enormous.

Then there’s software licensing. I really struggle to believe that we actually allow ourselves to be intimidated by suppliers selling products that they have made as difficult as humanly possible to manage.

If only one-tenth of the money that was spent on attempting to enforce software compliance was directed towards producing asset management tools, there wouldn’t be a problem.

However, it would seem that some of our favourite suppliers have a secret yearning to be the Rambos of the information age. Never mind the logic, go for the jugular.

Why do we let them get away with it? I’ve heard of examples of compliance audits where many weeks of effort have been consumed auditing thousands of PCs to discover maybe one licence issue. That was in an environment of multiple remote sites.

Personally, I find it amazing that there was such a small compliance issue. The almost complete absence of suitable software asset management tools makes the human management overhead expensive and complex. Inevitably there will be mistakes and compliance issues.

The answer isn’t to beat us up and consume yet more resources; the answer is to apply some intelligence and give us some products that will reduce the risk of error. Of course, that assumes that we buy from intelligent suppliers, which is probably an oxymoron.

I find the stance taken by suppliers and industry bodies offensive: they automatically assume I’m going to deliberately ignore the copyright laws.

We should be pursuing these suppliers as aggressively as they pursue us until such time as they sell us products that are fit for purpose, meaning:

– They have been tested
– They are secure
– They can be effectively managed as assets of the business

The only critical issues in IT today are the ones put there by the IT suppliers. It is about time they recognised and accepted that responsibility.