Compliance Costs Cheered as Chance for Smart Investments

Although regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA can drain an enterprise's coffers, a keynote speaker at Ziff Davis Media's Enterprise Solutions Virtual Tradeshow says companies can spend compliance dollars on architectures that bring long-term impro

By spending compliance dollars wisely and making the most of virtualization technology, IT managers can "make investments that help accelerate the enterprise," Rock Regan, Connecticuts former CIO, said in a keynote address Thursday at Ziff Davis Medias Enterprise Solutions Virtual Tradeshow.

In leading the states technology initiatives for eight years, Regan developed the first statewide enterprise architecture, implementing an ERP system, an integrated tax administration system, a multistate AFIS (automated fingerprint identification system) and several other major initiatives.

During his talk, Regan focused on the "genius of and versus the tyranny of or," a popular theme from the 1997 book "Built to Last" by James Collins and Jerry Porras.

"Were conditioned to make and/or decisions, so we often feel we have to make compromises," he said. "The fact of the matter is, many successful companies figure out how to do the and. Google is a company thats been able to do this and has the ability not to compromise on decisions."

But according to Regan, not even budget limitations should slow down the pace of IT development.

"Visionary companies dont believe in restrictions," he said.

As an example, Regan cited Connecticuts drive to comply with HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act). While compliance issues can be time-consuming and difficult for enterprises to solve, they also create opportunities—such as increased IT budgets—with which to do work.

Enterprises can spend compliance money on architectures and solutions that improve the company in the long run as well, he said.

"Compliance can be a big pain, but there are opportunities to use the technologies for compliance and fit them into an overall enterprise plan," Regan said during the keynote. "We took our HIPAA budget and leveraged it across 65 agencies, and not just for HIPAA compliance."

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In a straw poll of keynote attendees during the talk, nearly 25 percent viewed compliance as a necessary evil. However, 43.1 percent agreed with Regan and said it "can be helpful in providing investments in our infrastructure."

He also encouraged attendees to explore server virtualization, which allows organizations to spread compute workloads across a heterogeneous mix of servers and fully utilize existing infrastructure to expand those workloads.

"You can use virtualization to squeeze some dollars out of existing capital expenses," he said.

In order to ensure that budgets can be spread across many initiatives, and to help persuade senior management to expand those budgets, Regan told participants they also need to create coherent blueprints that align new technologies with clear business needs and benefits.

"A set of plans can let you understand where you are, what you want to do and how the enterprise can move forward with enterprise initiatives," he said.

Also important, Regan said, are personal management techniques. He said learning to rely on ones staff to support and grow enterprise initiatives, as well as maintaining a personal life outside of work, are key ingredients to success.

"We can often get too wrapped up in business," he said. "Demonstrating an appropriate work-life balance is important." Regan said he maintains that balance by both living and working in Cape Cod, Mass.

Regans keynote will be archived at The Enterprise Solutions Virtual Tradeshow continues throughout Thursday with discussions, keynotes and sponsor exhibits.

Editors Note: The Ziff Davis Enterprise Solutions Virtual Tradeshow is run by eSeminars, a division of Ziff Davis Media, parent company of

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