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War could bring budget cuts, users warned

Daniel Thomas
IT departments should be prepared to tighten their belts in the event of war with Iraq, user groups warned after United Nations weapons inspectors found undisclosed chemical warheads in Iraq.

IT budgets were cut sharply after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, and IT departments may well feel the squeeze again should a war begin, said Phil Howard-Knight, UK manager of IBM user group Guide Share Europe.

"Most IT organisations have already tightened their belts for 2003 and taken budget cuts, expecting it to be a bad year but hoping for an upturn," he said.

"The effect of a reasonably brief war with Iraq may be to block any possible upturn for the rest of this year, but I would only imagine it would have a further negative effect if the war goes wrong and the allies find themselves in a more complex and costly engagement than they are predicting."

Companies will be reluctant to make investments in IT projects in the event of war, particularly those that involve a degree of travel, said Ray Titcombe, chairman of the IBM Computer User Association.

"It will make it harder for US-based people to come to Europe and people will struggle to get the right project teams together. Also, certain materials might not be available if you cannot travel."

Titcombe expected those IT departments in the middle of projects to manage the initiatives remotely, using technology such as video conferencing.

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