2012: what opportunities and challenges will the New Year bring for IT?




2011 was certainly a dynamic and challenging year for businesses and their IT departments. The rapid uptake of cloud computing solutions by many enterprises significantly altered the way that we think about and do business. Similarly the explosion in mobile technology, including smartphone and tablet usage, revolutionized the way that information and data is consumed and transmitted. IT has always been a game changer within businesses, and now it’s shaping global politics as well as how the global economy functions. With two-thirds of CEOs considering that IT will make a greater contribution to their industry in the next 10 years than in any other decade, no company can ignore the vitally important role that the IT department and the CIO now holds in affecting business performance. An up-to-date, efficient IT infrastructure achieved in a cost efficient manner could potentially offer the competitive advantage needed, in a difficult and sluggish economic climate.

Whilst Gartner suggests that companies will spend $2,700bn on IT products and services in 2012, many IT departments will see further budget constraints and the pressure to do more with less, as well as battling to avoid adding to an already mounting IT debt. For businesses to be able to survive in an austere economic environment, IT leaders must embrace the post modern business and ensure that growing IT debt – the cost of performing the maintenance back log required to get applications up to a reasonable standard of integrity – is brought under control and resources are used efficiently.

While tackling this challenge, many organizations will be looking at innovative ways to increase revenue and simultaneously pursuing further cost reductions. Fulfilling this revenue drive will increasingly see internal IT departments take on responsibility to come up with IT initiatives that will offer efficiency while retaining a competitive edge. Doing all this under budget constraints means that IT departments will have to focus on the application quality and efficiency that underpin the core business and provide a stable core systems environment (either mainframe or distributed systems, or any combination) to ensure business can respond rapidly to market changes.

What’s more, businesses must ready their mainframes and IT infrastructure for the consumerization of IT being brought about by an explosion in information, collaboration and mobility. IT directors need to make the necessary adjustments to maximize the competitive advantage that the rise of mobile will continue to offer. The number of mobile handsets will continue to rise and are steadily contributing to the data flood. IT directors must not miss out on the opportunities that mobile apps can bring to their businesses in 2012, including online shopping via smartphones.

In addition to the rise in mobile, 2012 is set to be the year of regulation. Regulators will continue to pursue businesses who do not comply to the numerous regulations that will be implemented such as Basel III and Solvency II, for example. Businesses will need to be able to provide the information required through efficient management of data and systems.

Finally, businesses will see greater choice available when it comes to IT infrastructure management. While the adoption of cloud computing has already begun in Europe, 2012 is likely to be the year that sees an upturn in adoption to meet the rate of the US, as businesses seek greater agility and the ability to cut costs. 2012 will see a focus on improved agility for IT infrastructures through cloud computing and a review of the modern environments available for businesses looking to improve core enterprise service provision, ultimately prompting fresh scrutiny over the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and the value of outsourcing. IT agility was a hot topic in 2011 and will likely continue into 2012, enabling businesses to respond and act faster in an increasingly dynamic and challenging economic environment.

Ultimately, in order for successful IT innovation to be achieved in 2012, businesses will have to review all options, from application reuse to moving to new environments, assessing with caution and against risk, making sure that the pressure to cut costs does not negatively impact upon the business. While economic austerity continues, it will be the businesses with the most agile IT departments who think smartly about how best to meet both revenue and margin targets that will see the greatest success.

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