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So that was 2011. How was it for IT?

So that was 2011. How was it for IT? If there’s one trend you can pull out from the year it has been the rapidly shifting sands beneath the feet of some of the biggest names in the industry. And it’s not been the tough economy that’s caused it, but the inability of some market leaders to respond to the pace of change enveloping them.

Take Nokia for one. Not that long ago, the Finnish phone maker was unassailable as the number one mobile manufacturer. Now it ends 2011 with many questioning if it will still exist this time next year. Blackberry isn’t far behind – the leader in mobile devices for business by a mile has seen itself eclipsed by iPhone and Android, and sales slumped. A big strategic error in the technology for its Playbook tablet didn’t help.

HP made its way through 2011 rather like a drunk after a Christmas party. You know roughly where they are heading, but their direction of travel seems to change with every step. The world’s biggest technology supplier bought its new chief executive from eBay, and will be hoping for some stability and strategic vision in 2012.

Whither Microsoft? Not yet. Despite constant predictions of the Seattle giant’s demise, Microsoft still churns out record financial results. But the firm’s biggest challenges lie ahead, as the changing licensing and development models for software threaten its business model and turn IT managers off the constant upgrade cycle that will be renewed in 2012 with Windows 8.

We have also started to understand what the true impact of the cloud will be – that it will radically change the structure of the IT supply industry, and the relationship between those suppliers and their customers.

For IT professionals, it’s been a hard year, with the constant threat of cost cutting. But there have also been many examples that we’ve featured in Computer Weekly of organisations turning to technology to be more productive, innovative and cost effective. While the economy crumbles, IT becomes more essential than ever – 2011 proved that; 2012 will only reinforce it.

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