2009 is going to be a year when struggling companies acquire even weaker competitors. IT's role in this scenario is to smooth the integration of business systems. This means boning up on consolidation skills. Work forces will be combined and shrunk. For the IT department at the acquiring company, this means getting immediate control of password management/access control systems.
Server virtualization--already the darling of our industry for drastically reducing the time and resources needed to deploy applications--will now also drastically reduce the time and resources needed to assimilate overtaken competitors. P2V the overtaken companies systems and move them into your data center or cloud.
Cloud computing will also get a boost from the bust. In most cases, taking on the aging, energy-inefficient data centers of competitors won't make much sense compared with virtualization and the cloud. And of course, SAAS will ride this same wave.
Data deduplication, storage and disposal will likely boom in the bust. Acquiring information from fallen competitors is likely the most valuable asset most acquiring companies will get.
I wouldn't worry too much about compliance. The audit services and IT products that monitor compliance in the regulated financial industry will work just fine, as those unregulated "off-the-book" operations come under regulatory control. In many cases, this will just be doing more of the same. (I'm talking here only of SarBox and GLB. Don't expect HIPAA or PCI to get the time of day from executives who are making fundamental decisions about whether the company stays in business or goes belly up.)
It's going to be a bumpy ride for everyone who isn't adept at speedy salvage work. This means demonstrating an ability to quickly identify the most valuable information held by a dying company, sucking that data out as efficiently and quickly as possible and getting the information into the hands of business managers so they can get on with the business of staying in business.