Sticking it to Stick Figures?

When attending popular “emerging” technologies conferences, I usually make it a point to sit in on at least four or five sessions. During one of these “showcase” sessions, I heard the presenter say, “Excel is the #1 tool used in IT reporting.” Really?  I then looked around and could not believe it – everyone was smiling and nodding in agreement.  Just then, I found myself drifting off and thinking about an experience I recently had with my daughter.

Was I dreaming?  At the end of each school year, my wife frames a picture of a piece of art work each of our kids created during the school year.  My daughter just finished kindergarten and we were in the process of hanging her most recent “prized” picture. She proudly gazed at her progress, comparing her most recent work to her previous year’s work.

But then, her satisfaction quickly turned to displeasure. The reason? She began to look at her older brothers’ artwork from their 5th grade year. As her eyes wandered back and forth, comparing her masterpieces to theirs, I noticed she became extremely disappointed in her own work.  Needless to say, I was sad for her. At that moment, I also found myself thinking about how each of my children’s drawings had changed over the years because, over time, their views and ideas have also changed.

Dude…what’s the point? To my amazement, this experience helped me get a clear “picture” on the use of Excel spreadsheets.  Similar to the growth that occurs in the artistic abilities of children, I realized that reporting needs change over time for companies.  Companies initially say they need some reporting but it is not worth the investment to buy a large tool – it just needs to be quick, simple, and cheap – just like the stick figures our children start with.  Soon stick figures, however, become too basic and kids want to add dresses, shoes, colors, etc.  Similarly, spreadsheets start to fall short – using Excel begins to take too much time and better tools (for both my daughter and companies) become available.  The next logical step is to buy the perceived “best”.

One extreme end of the pendulum. Emerging artists want to buy full blown art kits with all the special pencils, brushes, etc.  In the same manner, IT organizations want the “full blown” high end monitoring and management “software special”, often costing six or seven figures.   The problem that I found is – just like my daughter does not need professional-grade, fancy artist supplies, most IT organizations do not need high end monitoring and management.

Sticking it to stick figures?  As I started to share this story with others, I found that many IT organizations have felt this growth and bought high end tools (the artist kit) and still use spreadsheets (to draw the stick figures) when all they really wanted was some markers (Visual Storage Intelligence®) to add color.

The good news is a middle ground exists. Visual Storage Intelligence® is an affordable online cross-vendor storage reporting tool that offers companies a basic set of on markers to add the color to their pictures.

By Phil Godwin, VP of Sales & Marketing,Visual Storage Intelligence®

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