With just a couple of weeks left of 2020, it is worth reflecting on what IT professionals can take away from this year. First and foremost, the hard work put in by IT staff, enabled many, many business, to remain operational, under unprecedented restrictions.
Coronavirus and the lockdown shone a light on the back office heroes. IT heroes have been responsible for ensuring that employees who had previously worked in the office, had access to laptops, connectivity to the corporate LAN and video conferencing, allowing them to work effectively at home.
The software that powers business processes such as those running supply chains, ecommerce, fulfillment and manufacturing that were still operational, needed modifying to keep the business running.
If there is one takeaway from the coronavirus crisis, it is that business leaders may finally realise the value of IT people. However this does not make the role of a CIO any easier. Budgets are not suddenly going to bloom. On the contrary: budgets are set to be cut in 2021, as businesses face a prolonged period of austerity.
Year after years, IT leaders have always been asked to do more with less. But in 2021, with business leaders recognising the value of IT, this task will be that much harder. If the first lockdown in March demonstrated IT’s ability to help businesses survive, the second wave of the coronavirus and subsequent lockdown, is about adaptability and agility in the era of austerity.
When asked about their plans for the next 12 months, the recently updated TechTarget/Computer Weekly UK IT priorities survey reported that 57% of the 120 IT professionals who took part, said they would be embarking on application modernisation initiatives.
John-David Lovelock, distinguished research vice president at Gartner, says: “Before the pandemic, most organisations moved their digital strategies forward at a steady pace. The way forward in 2021 is for organisations to increase, rather than decrease the speed of their digital business initiatives and fund those initiatives by diverting funds from other areas of IT.”
Application modernisation, collaboration tools and enterprise social media, all of which were previously seen as “nice to have” initiatives, have become essential for business productivity, and this is reflected in what IT decision makers plan to invest in next year. Such initiatives do not have an easy to measure return on investment (ROI). But when businesses are counting every penny, the CIO will need to convince the business, these things can start delivering cash returns far, far quicker than previous IT initiatives.