To avoid being sidelined within the business next year IT directors will need to focus on return on investment, cost-cutting and controlling complexity through better use of the Internet, integration and data, according to analyst firm Ovum.
With no one obvious IT trend on the horizon they should be looking to drive returns by using previous investments in systems and software. "IT directors should not be waiting for the next big thing, like Web services, but identifying their pain-points and looking at the things they can do today," said Philip Carnelley, Ovum's software research director.
This would help IT directors to endear themselves to the board, which should ensure that funding is available for projects when the economy recovers, Carnelley said. "It's time to consolidate, not complicate," he said, dismissing the path taken by some IT directors in 2002 of trying to please the board by underspending as "short-sighted".
"We're in danger of going back to the old mentality where spending on IT is seen as a necessary evil," he said, adding that in the current climate there were some good opportunities for bargains.
In 2003 the integration of existing, incompatible systems will be more important than developing new systems, Carnelley predicted. Moving Internet Protocol into enterprise architectures and using the Internet as a standard platform will make deploying and integrating business applications easier and cheaper.
Using business intelligence software and real-time analytics to improve awareness of the data they generate will help companies to become more customer-focused and efficient, he added.