Planning for a Better Year

By Eileen Feretic Print this article Print

Managers are planning their 2010 technology budgets with an eye on what will drive the business.

2009 has been an incredibly tough year—possibly the toughest one most of us have ever experienced. People who didn’t lose their jobs, their homes or most of the money in their 401(k) accounts are breathing a sigh of relief that it’s almost over. Less fortunate individuals are trying to hang on, hoping for better times in 2010.

Executives at businesses that have survived the so-called Great Recession have pretty much the same reactions: relief that 2009 is coming to a close and cautious optimism that economic conditions—and bottom lines—will improve next year.

Cautious optimism seems to be the attitude taken by the majority of the almost 1,200 technology and business managers and professionals who responded to our survey about business-technology trends in 2010. Though budgets are still tight, the majority of enterprises are planning to invest in the technologies that are most likely to drive their businesses forward next year.

The Baseline survey, conducted by Ziff Davis Enterprise Research, reports on the technology trends that are most important to the respondents—business and technology managers, directors, vice presidents and senior-level executives.

Survey respondents showed a major commitment to green initiatives. Ninety-two percent said they expect their companies to increase or greatly increase their spending for green IT systems next year. “Skyrocketing energy costs and tight budgets, coupled with growing public and government pressure, have forced companies to put this issue on the front burner,” wrote author Sam Greengard.

Clouds—both public and private—also scored high in the survey. Two-thirds of the managers responding think their companies will expand the use of public clouds, and 64 percent expect an increased deployment of private clouds. What’s driving this growth? Saving money is obviously a big factor, but other issues also come into play. Mark Lobel, a principal at PricewaterhouseCoopers, offered this explanation: “We’re finally seeing a level of standardization that makes cloud computing entirely viable.”

Governance is another growth area, with 85 percent of respondents predicting increased investments in governance processes and applications. One reason for this interest, according to John Shepard, director of IT infrastructure services at Starbucks, is that business has begun to understand that “there’s an entire process framework required for effective IT governance.”

The emphasis on governance makes another area of the report even more surprising: “Seventy percent of companies expect little or no significant investment in security, and 71 percent expect little or no significant investment in business continuity.” How can that be when cyber-threats continue to grow in number and intensity?

Leonard Eckhaus, the founder of ACOM, told Baseline that “security threats are growing exponentially” and “the data center is more vulnerable than ever.” Yet companies are reluctant to spend on security and business continuity.

The culprit here may be a reduction in funding for IT products, services and staff. When so much is expected of the technology organization and resources are so lean, something has to give. And it appears that, for many enterprises, that something is security.

Those companies are gambling that they won’t be hacked, so they’re spending their scarce resources on projects that will show a positive ROI, rationalizing that security would pay off only if there were a breach.

This is short-sighted thinking, but it’s hard to blame beleaguered IT leaders who are trying to make investments that show a clear ROI, deploy essential technologies that will help drive revenue and focus on projects demanded by corporate management.

Two other trends that should show healthy increases next year are social networking and knowledge and document management. More than two-thirds of survey respondents expect increased interest in social networking at their firms, and 60 percent predict increases in knowledge and document management.

Most companies acknowledge the importance of sharing information, and business intelligence is a critical foundation for that sharing. Approximately 31 percent of respondents said their companies will increase investments in BI and data mining next year.

Based on our research, 2010 won’t be a banner year for technology. But it will be significantly better than this year—and that’s something to celebrate.

This article was originally published on 2009-12-08
Eileen Feretic is the Editor of Baseline Magazine.
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