His first SAP project in 1996 was “harder than it needed to be,” and until the underlying architecture gets simpler, it’s going to stay complex, commented Mike O’Dell, CIO at Pacific Coast Building Products, on SiliconAngle.tv at SAP Sapphire 2011 this week. The company is a building materials manufacturer and distributor, and also does contract work.
“If I can have one, fast in-memory database, we’ll get to where we need to be,” he said. “But it’s still a destination to be reached, at this point.”
O’Dell told John Furrier, CEO and founder of SiliconAngle.com, that “I want to be able to ask a question on Monday and get the answer (from the database) on Monday afternoon. With business intelligence in one database and ERP in another, unless the world is just perfect, I can’t do that.”
“If it’s something out of the blue, by the time you’ve extracted the data, transformed it, written queries around it, and put it in useable formatting, it’s probably 1 to 2 weeks; I want it to be 1 to 2 hours,” he said.
The role of the CIO is definitely changing. “It will continue to change, and it should,” O’Dell commented. “At one time we were in charge of all of the hardware, even the air conditioning – we were like facilities managers. Our real goal is to leverage technology for business value, and that doesn’t add value for me.”
Budget-wise, O’Dell manages to keep operational costs at a lean 35% of budget. “One reason we’re that low is thar we’re very homogeneous on applications – SAP at the core, Microsoft non-core, with a few niche apps mixed in,” he said. His server infrastructure is about 96% virtualized now.
Looking to the future, O’Dell expects to see more consumerization of IT, as well as a sharp decrease in IT complexity, “to let us focus more on the business.”
For example, if he can use mobile devices to untether his employees from their desktop computers and let them go out and help customers, his company could potentially double its size without doubling its headcount, through the boost in productivity, he said.