I don’t usually consider myself overly optimistic. In fact, I’m often quick to point out the risks and pitfalls ahead and to advise others to tread carefully on new ground. Just recently, for example, I wrote here that many IT executives are facing some of the most difficult challenges and disruptions of their careers. I still believe that. How, then, can I now find a silver lining to the clouds hovering over IT? Perhaps, it’s a matter of perspective — and some recent encouraging signs — showing me that IT leaders may be in a great spot to achieve what they and their businesses set out to do.
To start with, all eyes are on technology to bring solutions and innovation to the business — and that can be your signal to shine. Timothy Chou, well-known author, Stanford University lecturer, cloud advocate and entrepreneur, has a new article in CFO magazine about how businesses can offer new services that truly benefit their customers. As he also writes in a Smart Enterprise Exchange blog:
The whole conversation about the consumerization of IT is taking you in the wrong direction. Sure, debating whether your employees should or shouldn’t be posting to Facebook at work, or how to block access to Dropbox, [is] warranted, but the bigger discussion should be about how you bring the technologies born in the consumer Internet and apply them to the challenges of delivering information that is personal and relevant to your customers and suppliers.
That statement may seem like an oversimplification, but it should elicit a sigh of relief for CIOs: You have a big job ahead of you, and it’s mission critical to your business. That should give a boost to your career and to the value of your efforts.
On the other coast of the U.S., another academic who researches the impact of digitization on business also is sanguine about current developments. In a recent article in the Atlantic, Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of MIT’s Center for Digital Business, and his co-author, Andrew McAfee, wrote that “big data is the innovation story of our time,” enabling better business forecasting and decision making than ever before. With the right analytic tools and the right people, the huge volumes of data now available can yield improved productivity and profits, they write.
And then there are assorted other recent signposts:
–Spending is up. IT can’t carry out the business’s mission without new resources. Although Gartner recently lowered its forecast for 4Q 2011 IT spending, it still expects 3.7 percent growth worldwide. And TEKsystems, an IT staffing services provider, announced higher IT budgets based on its quarterly IT Executive Outlook Survey, conducted in partnership with Inavero. The survey found that 53 percent of IT leaders expect budgets to increase in 2012. The most optimistic group is CIOs, with 66 percent anticipating increases to their budgets, according to the survey. IDC sees continued growth for Europe and the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) despite economic uncertainty, according to reports.
–Tangible results. Payback from recent investments are starting to emerge. For instance, savings from U.S. federal investment in virtualization technology — which is currently about $15 billion — is expected to reach $23.6 billion by 2015, according to MeriTalk, which surveyed 302 federal, state and local government IT decision makers for a recent report.
–IT Salary growth. Hiring and salaries are showing some strength. Software developers, information security analysts, network architects and business intelligence analysts are among the IT professionals who will experience the most significant salary growth in 2012, according to a new report from IT staffing and consulting firm Bluewolf.
Starting to feel more upbeat? I am. But the truest test of growth is the response you are getting from business group leaders and top executives at your enterprise. Are last year’s investments starting to show results? Are you hearing about more satisfied customers? Is your own staff growing and gaining stature? Please share your experiences and reasons for optimism with me and your peers.
Editor and Community Manager
Smart Enterprise Exchange