Suppliers and industry analysts have identified security and trust as the biggest issues for the IT industry in...
the coming year.
Experts at the Regent Conference, organised by IT trade association Intellect, said 2010 is likely to hold plenty of challenges for IT departments across the UK.
They say the momentum behind cloud computing is building, and with it issues around security and trust.
Andy Green, CEO at Logica, told the conference that security is one of the biggest sticking points for his company's clients at the start of 2010. "We are struggling to train and bring forward enough people to deal with the issue. The whole security issue is right at the top of people's minds," he said.
Hand in hand with security come issues of trust between client and service provider. This has assumed a new level of importance after the high-profile court case between BSkyB and EDS.
Green said, "Trust is a prevalent issue between service providers and clients. Court cases are a terrible place to get to." He said he ensures things go smoothly by recognising that contracts are a joint collaborative exercise, and that customers are interested in "effectiveness and more for less".
And while the UK may have just struggled out of recession, IT departments are not looking to splash their cash in 2010.
"They're looking to keep their cash at the moment," Green said. "They're not launching big change programmes. But they are looking to make changes that will have fast payback."
When the next big change programmes do come along, it is likely they will focus on data security. Green said many clients are struggling with the volume of data and the costs of storing it.
It is not only large businesses that will limit their spending. Paul Walker, chief executive at the Sage Group, which supplies mainly small and medium businesses (SMEs), said, "SMEs are worried they're going to be the ones that will suffer. Big corporates can raise the cash because they're bigger. So 2010 is likely to be quite conservative from a technical point of view."
But once the cash starts flowing again, Walker expects smaller businesses to be increasingly keen to invest in collaborative technology, which will enable them to speak electronically to everyone from the taxman to consumers. "Over the next two to three years, we are going to see a range of delivery mechanisms for them to be connected to the world," he said.
Cloud computing may have been a bit of a buzzword at the conference, but Green said it was little more than that. "People are confused by it. Most corporates are living in a legacy world. They're going to be in a hybrid environment, moving steadily towards the cloud. The issue they will face in a hybrid environment is how they are going to deliver credible services to the end user in a way that is consistent and clear."
Houston Spencer, vice-president at Alcatel-Lucent, said 2010 holds further network growth and investment for telecoms companies. "There will be continuing expansion of mobile broadband and that's going to mean a need for new investment in infrastructure. Some of that will be expansions to the 3G networks, but increasingly into 2011 it will mean fourth-generation network investment."
Most speakers were clear on the need to keep an eye on consumer trends. Much of the technology that ends up in businesses starts on the consumer market, and the experts assembled at the Intellect conference emphasised the need to stay in touch with what people are using in their day-to-day lives.
The conference aimed to answer the question of whether technology will lead the UK out of recession. Most IT departments are too concerned with their own budgets and companies to worry how they fit into the bigger picture, but Houston Spencer said IT will always play a crucial role.
"Nobody has been saying yes, technology will absolutely help the economy out of recession. But on another level, the answer has to be yes. You can't extract technology from the rest of the economy. And you can't support the overall health of the economy without the competitiveness technology brings."
Green added, "We are not going to see extra money going to this sector, but it's going to produce more and more value for society."