What do Southwest Airlines, Microsoft System Center and Cireson have in common?

Recently Paul & I were getting settled in for yet another flight back from the Microsoft Redmond offices, when our typical Microsoft System Center banter turned to the subject of airlines, profitability, and what was really separating successful companies from the herd in 2014 and beyond. I recalled having read somewhere that Southwest Airlines had recently recorded their 40th consecutive year of profitability…..an achievement that as most of us know, was not matched by their competitors by any stretch of the imagination.

So of course the next thing to wonder was, of course, why? How were they able to sustain their success throughout a period where the rest of their industry experienced periods of major upheaval and where many had struggled just to survive?

As we talked about various articles we’d both read and facts we knew, it became clear that the answer was tied almost directly to simplicity – something that we here at Cireson talk about often as the “Power of One.”

For starters, Southwest flies only one model of airplane – the Boeing 737. Other major airlines are known to deploy as many as 10 different aircraft…..which creates obvious complexity on the topics of mechanical aptitude within their respective maintenance teams, but also in less obvious ways like more elaborate seating and ticketing protocols. Many factors you might not think of right away are affected….from training plans for pilots & flight attendants, to booking systems, to routing & flight charts, spare parts inventory, storage options, etc.

In the end, Southwest’s business model has much less complexity and the potential for trouble that comes along with it. Their planes and overall approach provide a number of disparate moving parts that are completely interchangeable – and in the case of their planes, a product that comes from only one vendor. This means that if one plane must be removed from service on short notice, just swap in another and it barely causes a ripple. Same thing applies to pilots and so on….you get the idea.

The more we thought about it, the more we could trace Southwest’s success back to their recognition of the immense value of standardization on equipment and infrastructure. They’re able to achieve great strength & efficiency by implementing simple, repeatable processes and limited vendors whenever possible. The result directly impacts their bottom line in quantifiable ways and makes them a formidable competitor for any airline.

So why might two guys who spend nearly all of their time helping customers deploy & optimize IT operations with Microsoft System Center find this topic so fascinating at the end of a long trip? Well….…if you think about System Center, just like with Southwest Airlines, you have a product that takes seemingly complex processes & disparate functionalities……and reveals a simpler path forward through a single vendor, “Power of One” approach.

Many of our customers openly admit that too much choice is very often a bad thing. Every day IT leaders face daily challenges caused by lack of standardization within their environments – and are engaging in a quest for IT consolidation, automation, integration, and the major cost savings that come along with each of those. Before making the move to System Center, many of these leaders would face an environment featuring one vendor for service desk tools, another for anti-virus, another for asset management, and yet another for hardware & software monitoring. This inevitably causes major operational performance issues, and often even un-quantifiable costs……the enemy of any successful business plan.

If you’re reading this blog you’re surely aware that one of the key reasons for Microsoft System Center’s snowballing momentum is that the 2012 release is made up of 8 products, but is covered under one license. Furthermore, it’s spearheaded by Service Manager, which features integration capability into each of the other 7 components, for a truly unified experience. Again, “Power of One!”

As the plane took off, we realized yet another reason why this topic had overtaken us with such unexpected vigor, despite a plan upon boarding to catch a quick nap, mind you – Cireson has taken the same approach of helping our customers with the Total Management Suite of powerful Service Manager Improvements. While all of our competitors have focused only on a silo ’d approach, such as with IT Asset Management…..Cireson has developed one suite for all Service Manager needs. In our case, this  “Power of One” approach provides our customers with one price, one license, one development team, one support team, and one team of consultants who understand the intricacies of System Center’s potential. No need to have to deal multiple vendors in multiple different countries / time zones for Service Manager needs. That is crazy.

I suppose that might explain why we believe so much in System Center and why we tend to choose flying Southwest Airlines whenever possible!

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