Are business leaders too short-sighted for a unified physical infrastructure?

I recently attended a seminar by Panduit Canada, a Markham, Ont.-based infrastructure provider, and was introduced to their vision of a unified physical infrastructure (UPI). Basically, UPI seeks to integrate previously separate physical and logical components within an IT infrastructure – power, communication, computing, security, control. The end result, the company envisions, is an “intelligent infrastructure” that’s agile enough to keep up with the demands of today’s business world.

Presumably, though, making an organization’s IT infrastructure intelligent will require an overhaul of existing hardware and systems. And in light of technology investments that have already been made, shifting gears can be tough, however attractive the benefits.

But while IT leaders may understand the need for an investment today toward an improved IT infrastructure down the road, there still needs to be buy-in from the business. The fact that UPI not a solution – but a vision that can take up to ten years to be fully realized – may prove a hard sell to business leaders. Are enterprises prepared for such a long-term outlook where the benefits can only be fully reaped at the end of that path? Business leaders likely won’t be so easily sold on a vision that doesn’t bear immediate returns.

Although IT and business leaders may not see eye-to-eye on a long-term project like UPI, organizations might not have a choice but to arrive at an agreement if a Web 2.0-style of conducting business continues to encroach on the enterprise sphere. Indeed, one benefit of UPI is to allow workers to more efficiently do their jobs and access data when and how they want. And if this intelligent infrastructure can grant precisely that, then perhaps business leaders will need to forfeit short term gain for a new kind of business agility dictated by Web 2.0.

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