David Reilly, managing director of Credit Suisse's information technology group, says he often thinks about the cost of doing nothing. When his department -- currently in the midst of integrating Credit Suisse, Credit Suisse First Boston and their IT divisions -- wants to purchase new technology, "We tend to get asked, 'Why don't we just carry on as we are?'" he relates. "Increasingly, I find myself saying a decision to do nothing is an explicit decision to do something -- to continue on a cost curve rather than jump to a different curve."
For example, IT is deploying enterprisewide server, storage and desktop virtualization -- a disruptive and, in the short term, expensive project, Reilly notes. Yet carrying on as usual would require more dedicated servers and storage units every year, and result in a rising power bill. Long term, virtualization is more cost-effective, he contends.
But In the more nebulous area of data management, it's harder to make a clear case for cost recovery. Reilly credits CIO Tom Sanzone with having the vision to back such an investment. "If we want to lead, we have to do this," says Reilly. Otherwise, "someone else will take advantage of having a truly holistic approach to data management."
According to Reilly, Credit Suisse is considering appointing a data czar and dedicated data team to tackle data management. "We need to crack the problem intellectually first, then the technology solutions will follow," he says. The challenges, Reilly comments, include figuring out how to classify client data and tag data elements such that as they age, they migrate from expensive, highly resilient storage to less expensive, slower storage; and mining massive amounts of data for cross-selling opportunities.
The organization already has achieved some data sharing, such as enterprise search via a Google appliance and an employee portal that provides contact details, photos and organizational charts, Reilly notes. "We're not the finished article, but we're on the road," he says.