Unemployment is more than 10 percent, revenues for many businesses in technology are down and cost cutting has been the mantra all year. Gartner suggests that now is the ideal time to take a hard look at how IT functions within a business and that the coming year will be a game-changer in many professionals' careers, as long as the moment for change is seized.
How innovative and game-changing should your technology department be while just coming out of a recession? As much as possible, suggested Gartner Research in a paper released for its 2009 Symposium/ITxpo 2009 in Cannes, France, which took place last week. In this paper, Gartner outlined 11 areas where IT should be held up to a mirror.
Gartner believes that preparing for a growth period begins when the challenges are mighty and change is already in the air. Why not capitalize on change by shifting IT to an expansion of innovative business practice, of becoming more than a cost center and a contributor to the bottom line? Gartner thinks companies should look at varied levels of change including the most extreme transitions possible weighted against less extreme options to reach the most balanced approach.
"We are now within one of the rarest and most fleeting periods in business: nearing the bottom of a recession and before a return to growth," said Ken McGee, Gartner vice president in a statement. "We urge organizations to exploit this unusual opportunity to question the efficacy of their IT business practices and determine whether those practices warrant change. But they need to act now, by the time business growth returns, they will be far too busy, and it will simply be too late to change."
Here are the areas and questions Gartner presses IT organizations to answer:
- How to take "modernize IT infrastructure" and take advantage of cloud computing?
- How to improve budgeting?
- How to become the CEO of IT?
- What info should you disclose to executives?
- When should IT managers leave IT?
- Cost savings or business growth?
- How to organize IT support structures?
- Should new CIOs "abandon legacy IT organizational structures"?
- What innovation will you lead?
- How to prioritize innovation?
- Can you solve one "grand challenge" of IT by 2013?
Whether companies can afford to make significant changes in such a challenging economic period is the million dollar question.
In a study on salary trends for 2010 from earlier this year, Robert Half Technology found that CIOs plan to invest in the following areas of IT: network administration that can handle cloud computing, SAAS and VOIP; virtualization; applications and Web development, particularly for SAAS and Web functionality; and help desk and desktop support. Companies, however, are looking for managers and workers who have soft skills in business management.
"Technology professionals must be able to interact with peers in other areas of the company to ensure cross-departmental business needs are met. In addition, professionals who understand how IT initiatives tie to larger business objectives are better able to help firms reduce costs, increase profitability and enhance efficiencies," said the Robert Half Technology report.