Budget 04: Spending Priorities

Peter Coffee recently moderated a roundtable discussion with members of eWEEK's Corporate Partner Advisory Board.

eWEEK Labs Technology Editor Peter Coffee recently moderated a roundtable discussion with members of eWEEKs Corporate Partner Advisory Board to gauge their IT priorities for the coming year.


The forecast is for continued flat technology budgets in 04, but spending is opening up in certain areas. Click here to find out where.

Coffee: Id like to do a quick rundown of the list of participating Corporate Partners to see what everybodys high points are and drill down from there.


  • Kevin Baradet, CTO, S.C. Johnson School of Management, Cornell University
  • Judy Brown, Emerging Technology Analyst, University of Wisconsin System Administration
  • Bill Conati, IS Manager, Maax Spas Arizona Inc.
  • Randy Dugger, President, Dugger & Associates
  • Glenn Evans, District Manager, Foundation Architecture Computing, AT&T Laboratories
  • Gary Gunnerson, IT Architect, Gannett Co. Inc.
  • Sam Inks, Director of IS, Atlantic Research Corp.
  • Fran Rabuck, President, Rabuck & Associates
  • Bob Rosen, CIO, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
  • Francine Siconolfi, Systems Manager, Aetna Information Services, Aetna Inc.
  • Greg Smith, Vice President & CIO, World Wildlife Fund
  • Kevin Wilson, Lead Workstation, Duke Energy
  • Ed Benincasa, Director of MIS, FN Manufacturing Inc.

Gunnerson: Given the current economic forecast, were pretty much flat. Well replace things that are broken, but we have no major new things happening. If anything, we might look at consolidating operations.

Rosen: Our priorities are primarily based on the presidents management agenda—consolidation and reduction, A-76 [competitive sourcing] studies, outsourcing, and those kinds of things.

Wilson: For 2004, our focus is mainly on our products and services to our clients within the company and keeping the costs that were going to charge them down.

Benincasa: A lot of what were seeing for 2004 is the appetite for disk space, storage, mobile computing and security, and thats where we see a lot of our funds going.

Brown: The IT budgets are split across our state. However, centralized here at this system, were looking at shared implementation. Were moving to one learning management system, which is pretty big. We are doing a lot of applied research and are spending some money in mobile.

Inks: The budget for this year was basically flat. Next year is sort of a wild guess because were in the middle of being acquired.

Smith: We actually just turned the corner on our new fiscal year, which is July through June, so well get half the benefit of the next calendar year. Our budgets, both operating and capital, have been reduced going into the start of this fiscal year, and I think primarily because were hedging. In the nonprofit world, we typically lag behind a full economic recovery by some measure of months.

Ive broken down the focus on fiscal year 2004 into two specific areas: securing some of our critical assets, as well as improving operations and lowering costs through technology.

On the first side, were going to be looking at implementing a digital asset management system. Weve got a lot of photographs and ownership issues that we need to fold into disaster recovery and provide cleaner and better access to our staff and field offices around the world.

In the second area, were going to be doing a financials intelligence pilot for decision support against our Oracle Financials applications. Were looking to implement software distribution through multiple phases to allow us to do things faster and cleaner from a help desk standpoint, by reimaging desktops and deploying applications across the data network. We are going to be looking at outsourcing—via an ASP [application service provider] solution—our [human resources information] systems, and tying that into our timekeeping and other interfaces to our financial systems.

Dugger: Id say most of my government clients this year are kind of in the hunker-down mode.

The No. 1 thing I see most of my people going nuts over is spam. Financewise, most of them are just doing incremental upgrades and keeping operations running while they ride out the budget tidal waves right now.

Baradet: Were kind of finishing up our fifth year in our new building, going into the sixth year, so we have a lot of projects that are finishing up, a lot of integration with PeopleSoft thats being implemented at the university level. So Im going to be writing out a plan for us for the next few years this coming year, covering digital asset management, digital video production. Were going to be kind of splitting the hive, so to speak, and sending a number of folks out of the building to another facility, so were going to have to look into how to support those folks.

Our budget is pretty much flat, but with a lot of big projects winding up, we wont have those expenses, so well have some money to look at some new areas, including supporting of wireless handheld devices for the students.

Rabuck: With my consulting work in the mobile/wireless space, what Im seeing is people looking to take Wi-Fi and apply something to it, rather than just make it a wireless sort of solution.

Conati: This year and into next year, well be focusing on basically enhancing our [enterprise resource planning] system with some enterprise reporting tools and some business portal tools that were going to be integrating, as well as some [customer relationship management] tools. Other than that, though, things are flat, and even though we have approved capital budgets, its a major process to actually get to the next step of getting those things approved.

Evans: Right now, it looks like enterprise computing, storage and document management.

Siconolfi: Were bringing in CRM [customer relationship management] and content management software. ... The big thing were seeing in applications is not so much going out and buying an end-to-end application that does everything or claims to do everything, like CRM, but having all the tools we need to put an application together that solves a problem for the business area. In one particular case, it has to do with just making sure we have all the right tools.

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