Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Chicken Luddle Alive and Well in City Hall

Governments don't understand technology. The general press rarely does either. Even in San Jose, the self-styled "capital of Silicon Valley", mixing government, the press, and technology can lead to bad journalism, poor governance and really bad tech.

The San Jose Mercury News has discovered "collusion" between the city's IT department and Cisco Corporation regarding equipment for the new city hall. This is part of a series of articles detailing cost overruns in the building of the new municipal edifice, including wide-screen plasma televisions and more.

The city's IT department (which already uses mostly Cisco equipment) called in the networking company's consultants to help plan the infrastructure of the new city hall. Not a bad move, really, its something any corporate IT department would also do. When planning infrastructure you need to talk to people who eat, drink and dream infrastructure. The mayor and the city manager don't qualify.

The news story, "Report details S.J. bid collusion" (may require registration) harps on the fact that Cisco equipment costs more than rivals' equipment. But that's not "news" to anyone in high tech. What the newspaper, the city bureaucracy and the politicians fail to grasp (and what the city's forced-to-resign-in-disgrace IT director tried to point out) is that Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is about a lot more than the price of some hardware. Once you've calculated cost of equipment, maintenance, training and interconnection the "buy Cisco" solution looks much better. But that's probably too technical (or requires too much research) so the Merc will overlook that, and pat itself on the back for its "muck-raking" reporting. The city will get a lowest bidder phone and network system (probably from someone who's a big campaign contributor) which may or may not interoperate, which may or may not cost more in maintenance than in procurement and which may or may not be an orphan before the installation is finished.

San Jose once again reveals itself to be Podunk on the Pacific represented by a newspaper that's probably not even the best one in Santa Clara county!

Comments:
I have the pleasure of speaking with numerous sales and marketing professionals everyday in all levels of management. What I find most amazing in the world of lead generation is a direct reflection/deflection on your following statement: "When planning infrastructure you need to talk to people who eat, drink and dream infrastructure. The mayor and the city manager don't qualify."

Sometimes it's just not the CIO who makes every IT decision.

Thanks for the chuckle,
Charles Barrow
iNetProfit
 
I have the pleasure of speaking with numerous sales and marketing professionals everyday in all levels of management. What I find most amazing in the world of lead generation is a direct reflection/deflection on your following statement: "When planning infrastructure you need to talk to people who eat, drink and dream infrastructure. The mayor and the city manager don't qualify."

Sometimes it's just not the CIO who makes every IT decision.

Thanks for the chuckle,
Charles Barrow
iNetProfit
 
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