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The Quest for Simplicity

A colleague of mine with close to 30 years experience in financial services recently returned from a business trip to Kuala Lumpur where he attended a financial services CIO summit.  One of the messages he heard again and again was the quest for simplicity.

The CIOs were looking for solutions that are not simplistic, but rather simple – simple to implement, simple to maintain and simple to use.

Not a new concept, but one we need to constantly remind ourselves of as we use technology as an enabler.  Key lessons learned to keep in-mind include:

  • It’s not about the technology, it’s about delivering improved capability and business value
  • Get the users involved early and often
  • Ensure both the business and the technology sides are aligned
  • It’s about people, process and technology

The list can go on, but let’s return to simplicity. When we look at today’s distributed computing environment, it harkens back to the early 1990s when the battle raged between OS2 and Windows.  We all know the result and now PCs, in a client-server architecture, rule the day. It is now becoming increasingly clear that the client-server environment is anything but simple which is why we are moving into a post PC era.  I would argue that a critical part of this shift is the need to drive to simplicity.

A brief example may help paint the picture for you. We recently worked with a large European bank that was facing a far-reaching desktop operating system upgrade. To replace the old with the new would not have solved one nagging problem:  it took over 20 minutes to boot up, sign in and start using a desktop. All the best intentions lead to increased complexity and a lot of lost productivity.

Do the math:  1,000 people signing in once a day lose a total of 333 hours of productivity every day. That’s 8 weeks of lost productivity in the first half hour of each work day. Transitioning to a virtual desktop environment, with Cisco Virtualization Experience Infrastructure(V XI) and services, brought the sign-in time down to seconds, not minutes, while simplifying overall desktop management, which ultimately helped increase productivity.

The challenges we face in today’s post-PC era include overcoming complexity, but as Edward de Bono says, “Dealing with complexity is an inefficient and unnecessary waste of time, attention and mental energy. There is never any justification for things being complex when they could be simple.” Now is the time to drive for simplicity.

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2 Comments.


  1. Great article. In my industry customers tend to be slow to adopt technology, and we’ve learned the hard way to follow this article’s tenets.

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  2. Well I agree keeping things complex wastes a large amount of productive time. Signing in to the system is often an area where all organizations especially Banks maintain high levels of security to prevent any unauthorised access. Its good that Cisco has a solution to slow computer sign in problems and I hope the Cisco Virtualization Experience Infrastructure will be providing high levels of security to prevent any unauthorised access.

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