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Levi, Ray & Shoup, Inc.

“2000” Lessons for the Present Day

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Remember the year 1999? It started with the introduction of the Euro and ended with the biggest New Year’s Eve celebration of our lifetimes. But for IT managers around the world, one acronym loomed large: Y2K.

So much has been written about the “Millennium Bug,” that it hardly bears repeating here. Suffice it to say, modern civilization did not grind to a halt and the computer systems that we all rely on did not fail us as the calendar rolled to the year 2000. In fact, much of the world’s IT infrastructure was running better than ever.

Why? Because businesses had spent most of the 1990s modernising their applications, networks, and hardware systems to ensure that they would be ready for the 21st Century. IT spending was at near-record levels, not because companies were suddenly in a generous mood but because they believed they had no choice but to update their infrastructures by January 1, 2000.

What does that have to do with today?

Most IT leaders I meet these days ask some variation of the following three questions:

How can I reduce the number of servers in our environment?

How can we decrease the number of calls coming into our help desk?

How can my team improve the end user experience for our business stakeholders?

These questions relate to many aspects of IT operations, including the one LRS addresses – output management. All of these goals can be achieved by taking a holistic, strategic approach to managing enterprise output and by simplifying the systems that deliver printed and electronic documents (as explained in a recent white paper on the subject). A better end user experience results when employees can print any document from any platform to any device, anywhere in the network. By eliminating redundant print servers, there are fewer points of failure and fewer costly hardware assets to maintain.

Print server consolidation simplifies centralized server management, which helps organizations reduce helpdesk calls. (Since documents are delivered to the target device in the correct format the first time, users never need to call to report a problem.) Problem solved: eliminating redundant print servers results in less complexity and increased reliability, which leads to a better end user experience.

The challenge for these IT managers is that most companies are unwilling to spend money just to make end users happy. Productivity gains represent “soft money” savings, and there are often more pressing business requirements. For example, money is more likely to be allocated to helping an organization comply with an ever-increasing number of security regulations. Security-related projects represent “need to have” rather than “like to have” budgetary items. Just like Y2K projects were two decades ago.

The topic of document security has been covered extensively in one article after another on this Blog and elsewhere. Pull printing, document encryption, and data compression features in LRS output management software help companies comply with security mandates and defend their critical documents against external and internal threats. Which keeps data safe and makes regulators happy.

At the same time, a comprehensive output management solution achieves the aforementioned “soft benefits” like improved end user experience and reduced help desk calls. Which makes both senior IT teams and business stakeholders happy.

In the rare event when doing something you need to do gives you the resources to do something you want to do, it’s cause for celebration. So go ahead and party like it’s 1999! 

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