Dheeshjith Vattaparambil , CIO , Infosys Ltd
We get to enjoy a whole lot of innovative products and services in this fast-changing world, provided we make the right choices in procurement. It is easier said than done. But the good news is that with a sound strategy in place and adequate planning, it is achievable.
It is important to clearly articulate your objectives/requirements (strategic and operational), goals (short-term and long-term), your environmental landscape (current and future), and long-term cost (CapEx and OpEx) that you are willing to spend before making the first step of procurement.
The following section lists a dozen ideas for buyers' considerations that can help to make the right choices in communication technology purchases.
Product roadmap. One should always look for products with compelling features and function roadmaps at least for the next 3 years. A good roadmap gives you confidence in vendor's strategic insight in the field, the future investment plans, and direction. One should also look at the possibility of protecting existing investments and future proofing investments as far as possible.
Review rating by analysts. It is always good to get an unbiased view from independent analysts who track and report competitive landscape of similar product lines. You may find some such reports free of cost.
Software defined. One should look for products with software-defined architecture to squeeze the best out of the product. This is becoming universally true even in all other technologies too.
Products versus services. Many vendors will offer services rather than products in the months to come. It will be a good choice for buyers looking for newer features. Proliferation of cloud-based offerings with continuous feature upgrades is a good claim to support this view point.
Evaluate to short list and then to finalize. It is essential to evaluate all similar products at high level to shortlist two or three products. Detailed level evaluation and study can be done to finalize your product.
PoC. As every environment has some specific uniqueness and complexities, always rely on doing own proof of concept to ensure that your unique requirements are met. You may have pleasant and unpleasant surprises here!
Reference calls. It is important to have reference calls with similar companies in the same industry and of similar size, who have done recent implementation. This will unearth many limitations as well as good use cases of product.
Professional services. If you are completely new to the product, it is better to get help from professional services in evaluation and implementation support. Rest assured your money will be well spent in this area.
Product support. You need to ensure availability of support and spares in your area post implementation. This is particularly important for bleeding-edge technology services and products.
New-age features. One should look for features such as self-healing/correction, self-learn, auto-configure based on artificial intelligence, remote management, mobile interface, analytics and reporting, system health-check feature, etc.
Basic features. While security and performance are the key features of all systems, one must ensure the end-user experience. One should always look for systems with high degree of inter-operability with diverse technologies, easy deployability, maintainability, admin friendliness, etc.
New use cases. In any product, one can get to see very interesting use cases far beyond the imagination of product vendors. If you have not learnt a couple of new use cases during the procurement process then either you have not done a good evaluation or you are picking up a wrong product!
Your evaluation framework can be upgraded based on the above ideas to future proof your purchases. Even if your objectives are not fully met with, based on your expected budget today, you can look forward to the falling prices so that the future is bright!