Latest News


21st March 2024

Learning from History: Exploring the Pros and Cons of Decentralised Computing in Business

"The only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn anything from history" - Is this true?

No, in my opinion, there is a wealth of knowledge to be gleaned from past experiences. Decentralised computing, in particular, presents a fascinating case study, with its own set of advantages and challenges. I want to delve into the pros and cons of this further, drawing lessons from my experience and history working in large centralised IT departments during the 1980's and 1990's to help inform your present and future digital strategies.

    • Ownership or Lack Thereof
      One of the primary considerations in decentralised computing is ownership. While it may offer autonomy to individual departments or units, it can also lead to ambiguity regarding accountability and responsibility for your IT assets and infrastructure.

    • Centralised Control and Governance
      Decentralisation often comes at the cost of centralised control and governance. This can result in a loss of oversight and standardisation, making it challenging to enforce compliance, security protocols, and overarching IT strategies within your business.

    • Cost Management
      Without centralised procurement and cost management controls, costs can spiral out of control in a decentralised environment. Fragmented purchasing decisions and disparate systems may lead to inefficiencies and increased expenditure.

    • Duplication and Complexity
      Decentralised systems frequently suffer from duplication and complexity issues. Disparate systems across various departments can lead to redundant processes, data silos, and increased complexity in integration efforts.

    • Alignment with Business Goals
      Silos created by decentralised computing often hinder alignment with overarching business objectives. Lack of coordination and communication between departments can result in misaligned IT initiatives that fail to support your broader organisational goals.

    • Consolidated Skills Base
      Decentralisation can fragment IT teams, leading to a loss of knowledge and expertise. A centralised approach allows for a consolidated skills base, fostering collaboration, knowledge sharing, and more effective problem-solving.

    • Retention of Intellectual Property (IP) and Skills
      Centralisation facilitates the retention of IP and skills within your business. By investing in developing internal talent and fostering long-term team loyalty, your business can safeguard its intellectual assets and maintain a competitive edge.

    • Long-Term Strategic Framework
      While decentralised computing may offer short-term flexibility, it often results in long-term strategic challenges. Your business risks sacrificing holistic IT planning and alignment with future business needs for immediate gains.

    • Building on Knowledge and IP
      Centralisation enables your business to build upon existing knowledge and intellectual property systematically. By consolidating resources and expertise, organisations can leverage their accumulated wisdom to drive innovation and growth.

    • Taking Ownership of Technology
      Embracing decentralised computing doesn't mean relinquishing ownership of technology. Your business should strive to transform IT assets into strategic business assets, minimising reliance on external service providers and maximising profitability.

    • Build vs Buy
      Building technology in-house offers several benefits, including greater customisation, control, and cost-effectiveness in the long run. By investing in internal development capabilities, your business can tailor solutions to their specific needs while retaining ownership and control over your technology stack.

In conclusion, while decentralised computing offers certain advantages such as autonomy and flexibility, it also poses significant challenges in terms of control, alignment, and cost management. By learning from historical lessons and carefully weighing the pros and cons, your business can develop more effective IT strategies that balance decentralisation with centralised oversight and governance. Ultimately, the key lies in striking the right balance to harness the full potential of IT while mitigating inherent risks.

LinkedIn Post