Get ready for a slowdown

If, as the financial experts predict, the economy is heading for a downturn what will be the impact on IT?

In the past we have seen businesses outsource more of their IT to reduce operational costs during tough trading conditions.

If the economy really does experience a major downturn in 2008 outsourcing may well be an option.

But rather than outsource, businesses could look at how to make the most of what IT resources they have.

For instance, an IP network allows businesses to use IP telephony and support tele-workers and video conferencing, cutting down on the need for staff to travel and even the need for physical office space.

And what about IT costs? Many of us have a PC at home. By using an IPVPN, that PC can connect securely to the company network. Desktop productivity software costs could be reduced by switching to free stuff like AVG anti-virus, Google Apps or using open source products. Thin client, browser-based applications, Windows Terminal Services or Citrix Metaframe could extend the life of legacy PCs by allowing them to be run as thin clients. Virtualisation could enable unsupported, legacy Windows applications to run on top of modern hardware using a supported OS.

A slow-down in the economy will force us to change the way we work and find new ways to improve efficiency. Let’s gace it, CRM is a bit hit and miss. Industry watchers expert businesses to start building communities through social networking sites that go beyond marketing gimmick, allowing companies to interact with their customers.

So maybe a downturn is what it will take for businesses to adopt social networking to build a rapport with their customers and understand them better – true customer relationship management. At the very least IT directors will have a chance to demonstrate to the business how the IT developments of the last few years really can add business value.