Recent economic history contains an important lesson for CIOs. Each of the previous three global downturns were marked by the emergence of an innovative, disruptive technology that was overlooked when budgets were under pressure, but took off as recovery set in.
In the early 1980s, it was the PC; in the 1990s, ERP software; in the first years of the 21st century the internet revolutionised business once the dotcom crash had abated. So what innovations are lining up as possible successors to these technologies? Social media is perhaps one, but in the corporate world most experts believe cloud computing is best placed to drive such change.
"CIOs need help identifying the key emerging technologies that should impact their planning and investment. They want to institutionalise innovative technologies such as cloud and social computing that can drive business innovation," says Sharyn Leaver, CIO research director at analyst Forrester Research
Bob Tarzey, director at analyst firm Quocirca, says so-called "platform as a service" offerings are set for growth. "Any CIO who believes their responsibility is to acquire and deliver IT resources to the business internally is in danger of overlooking many potential opportunities to use cheaper, more flexible capability available on-demand over the internet.
"Today's CIO needs to be co-ordinator of the business's requirement for applications - however they are delivered. Integration and shrewd purchasing are still key elements to the successful use of IT, but it is no longer an internal service. CIOs who ignore this will be bypassed by the business."