IT directors should prepare for growth and plan to spend their full budget this year. That will be the message to corporate IT users attending the Gartner Symposium in Barcelona this week.
After four years of IT directors cutting costs, rising business confidence is fuelling demand for new IT.
There is a sharp turnaround from 2003 when IT directors were still grappling with the downturn. A quarter of businesses did not spend their full IT budget last year, according to Gartner.
This year, however, businesses are preparing for growth and this will mean an accelerated pace of change for the IT department and an increased complexity in technology.
Senior IT managers will have to respond with new business insight and put forward new technology proposals that add business value.
At the same time, IT directors must continue to rationalise internal infrastructure, drive down costs, improve services and demonstrate control, according to the analyst group.
Gartner Symposium delegates will hear analysts question whether software development will meet the demands of new and more complex business needs. Continuing shifts in application infrastructure, as well as the skills to develop and deploy these in more modern applications, remain key stumbling blocks for many organisations.
IT directors will have to answer a series of difficult questions in the coming months: should you build your own applications or outsource them? Do you have the right skills available in-house? Are packaged applications the answer? Should application development be outsourced?
Any opportunity to hand over responsibility for aspects of IT - whether through an offshore outsourcer or a UK-based company - needs consideration, Gartner will warn. Mistakes could leave organisations signed into a contract that cannot handle the changing demands of the business.
IT infrastructure will also need to be refreshed because many companies have delayed upgrading their PC and server hardware, making their existing infrastructure unlikely to cope as business picks up, delegates will be told.
Users seeking to update their infrastructure will benefit from a price war among server manufacturers.
Hewlett-Packard has launched a campaign to lure Sun users, and Sun is offering low-cost server hardware based on the AMD Opteron64 processor.
Roger Fulton, vice president of research at Gartner, said, "It is a good time for users to buy and reap the rewards of low-cost servers." Gartner also expects users to start rolling out mobile infrastructures to support business agility.
Gartner has coined the term "real-time enterprise" to describe how businesses need to react to change. Wireless technology and mobile computing devices will be key to the future of both the real-time enterprise and a new generation of consumer products and services, Gartner said.
- Careful consideration should be given to outsourcing
- IT infrastructure should be refreshed to cope with changing technology
- Users buying now can take advantage of a supplier price war
- Mobile infrastructures can support businesses.