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New technology flexibility will help soften economic downturn

IT directors in the UK have been urged to prepare for budget cuts in the light of predictions of an economic downturn this year, but indications are that start-up companies may fare better than most.

Analyst firm Gartner has advised IT directors to ensure they are prepared for cuts in IT budgets of around 10% this year.

IT departments of most companies will be hard hit if the predictions prove to be accurate, but George Henderson, IT director of Silverjet said newly acquired technology will help soften the blow.

"Being fortunate enough to start with a blank sheet of paper less than two years ago, when we raised the funds to start building the business, we were able to choose modern technology that afforded us scalability and flexibility a start-up requires without saddling ourselves with crippling capital outlay," said Henderson.

He said Silverjet had high levels of flexibility built into its web site and reservations system.

"This ensures we can react tactically to any change in market conditions," said Henderson.

Graham Royle, IS manager at steel producer Corus international also identified flexibility as being one of the core tasks this year to support redeployments of resource, while maintaining customer experience.

Henderson said modern IP-based applications and hosted systems were critical to success in any projected downturn to help keep costs under control.

"Silverjet launched a fully transactional web site, corporate booking tools, reservation system, and call centre applications in four months for under £100,000," he said.

The company is to concentrate on route expansion this year and therefore does not plan to run any major IT projects in 2008, but Henderson said innovation in IT would remain key to maintaining competitive edge.

Henderson said outsourcing was also very important to improving the efficiency and lowering operational costs of an IT department in a downturn

"If you have chosen the right partner they would hopefully work with you to flex requirements, resources and cost through any kind of market fluctuation," he said.


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