Managing IT spending amid the wreckage of the coronavirus crisis

Uncertainty is the new certainty. As lockdowns ease across Europe, IT leaders are surveying the wreckage of their carefully planned pre-pandemic strategies. Nothing is what it was – according to one survey, 95% of IT departments changed their tech priorities as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

In the vast majority of cases, those IT teams were the heroes of their organisations – their rapid response helped keep the economy and public services running, converting 80% of the workforce to be able to stay productive from home. But that response cost money, too.

As we enter the second half of the year, there’s likely to be a budgetary reckoning. How to adjust T spending to bring forecasts at the start of 2020 back on track? How to pick up on digital transformation plans and customer engagement strategies in a world where we can’t be entirely sure we won’t have a second wave of Covid-19?

Forrester Research predicts that the UK is likely to come out of the crisis in a worse state than European competitors. The analyst says the UK could see a 9.3% drop in IT spending in 2020, compared to France at 6.6% and Germany at 5.2% – blaming this on the UK’s political response to the pandemic. And the little matter of Brexit: “The delay in the UK’s response to the pandemic and its continued path of expanding infections will likely push the timing for an initial reopening of the UK economy into Q3, later than when France and Germany will enter this phase. But as containment efforts start to relax, the unresolved issues of Brexit will come back to the fore,” said Forrester.

But IT chiefs should not be downhearted. The analyst also recommends: “Act selectively”. Cloud migration, customer experience, digital engagement, e-commerce, collaboration, automation, security – all these remain priorities, and if anything have become of greater importance. The most digital businesses are the ones that have come through the past months in the best shape.

Instead, do you really need that server upgrade when you could use the cloud? Could your PC estate stay as it is for another year or so? Do you really need all those software licences? Solid governance and attention to detail will be central to stabilising IT budgets in a way that does not hinder digital transformation or detract from the role that technology must play in building back the economy into 2021.

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