Randall Mott, senior VP and CIO of Dell Inc., addressed an overflow crowd in Austin, Texas, Wednesday morning as the keynote speaker at the 16th annual Government Technology Conference. Dell, said Mott, produces more revenue online than Amazon, Yahoo and eBay combined, and has had to deal with some of the same large challenges faced by government agencies. "How do you as IT leaders think about IT?" he asked. "How do you plan it and deal with challenges? How do you manage your portfolio? What percentage do you spend on legacy systems, and how much time do you spend just keeping the lights on?"

Twenty years ago, said Mott, innovation was the hallmark of the IT industry, but now 85 percent of its resources is devoted to maintaining legacy systems. Many sectors have failed to take advantage of changes and innovations in the industry, because they are upgrading old mainframes and in effect running in place. Preferable to this "scale up" approach, is what Mott called "scale out," parallel processing with standard building blocks. "If you have four four-ways and add another, you buy the newest four way. That's a fundamental shift from scale up to scale out."

Mott described in some detail Dell's methodology to track projects, derive metrics for on-time completion of some 800 active projects, consolidate databases and increased interoperability. "We have an organization of 'show me the metrics, show me the money,' said Mott. "Did we accomplish what we wanted to do -- and we feed that back into the process."

Ontime delivery of projects, said Mott is at 92 percent with the standard for late set at one day, and I/T expenses as a percent of revenue actually dropped from 1.91 percent to 1.43 percent from FY01 to FY05. Those are the kind of metrics, said Mott, that increase an IT organization's credibility and support within the enterprise.

Wayne Hanson  |  Editor