With the spending doldrums fading, IT cheque books are getting a workout as IT leaders look at selectively investing in flexible, efficient infrastructure projects, according to industry analysts and representatives.
Gartner’s Asia-Pacific research group vice president, Mike Lafford said its CIO Agenda survey showed the top two technology priorities for CIOs in 2004 centre on infrastructure.
“The top priority is the development of a flexible and efficient infrastructure – which is a requirement for mobile computing – followed by managing that infrastructure,” Lafford said. “Managing infrastructure is another challenge and is fraught with problems as business continues to change. Third on the list is security enhancement tools.”
Speaking at this year’s Citrix iForum event in Sydney, Lafford said although the days of using technology for technology’s sake are over, CIOs are preparing IT departments for growth.
“The top three priorities [of CIOs] for preparing IT growth are developing leadership in their senior team, demonstrating the business value of IT, and improving the quality of IT service delivery,” he said.
“Why did leadership move from eighth [position] to number one? CIOs need to talk in business terms.”
As to what the new 'normal' for CIOs will be in the near future, Lafford said: “Business is now more electronic which is not a step backward and IS capabilities will try to drive business capabilities.
“Businesses need an agile, flexible IT infrastructure, and – to maintain credibility – let’s make sure we manage infrastructure effectively,” he said. “This will justify spending on new technology.”
Citrix’s senior vice president of corporate development, David Jones, said CIOs are beginning to view access more strategically.
“Providing access is a key driver for business growth,” he said. “When it all hit the wall in around 2000, IT budgets came under a huge squeeze and it was the new growth projects that got cut.”
Jones quoted figures from SAP stating that an optimal measure [of IT spending] is 60 percent operations and 40 percent innovation.
“So what are CIOs saying? We talk to CIOs of some of the world’s largest companies and many who are innovative in the way they use technology,” he said. “CIOs are changing their focus and are looking at any way they can change this equation and move money from ‘run’ to ‘grow’.”