IT spend will rise where ROI proved

Fast returns on investment and infrastructure consolidation, along with security, look set to be the focus for IT directors...

Fast returns on investment and infrastructure consolidation, along with security, look set to be the focus for IT directors preparing to submit next year's budgets to the board.

Reports from IT departments and analyst surveys all suggest increased resources will be available next year for IT chiefs who know how to pitch plans.

Brian Jones, chief information officer at drinks giant Allied Domecq, said, "There is only one way we can get discretionary funding for IT projects - they have to be directly related to the company's strategic aims. They also have to be do-able and get a payback within 12 months."

Business partners and regulatory pressure also drive investment. "The main driver is making sure we are flexible and responsive to the market. The government is a major customer and is driving us to work online, buying, tracking and working with partners in projects," said Richard Edwards, business systems director at aggregates producer Hanson.

Security already tops the list of many IT directors' spending priorities but they expect that more money will be available to address a rising tide of threats.

"The media coverage of viruses such as Sobig and Blaster has brought security to non-IT directors' attention," said Roger Ellis, chairman of the IT directors' network. IT directors are having to demonstrate a fast return on investment for other spending priorities, he said.

Investment analyst Goldman Sachs has predicted "improved though still very modest growth" in IT budgets for 2004, based on its latest quarterly survey of 100 chief information officers from the top 1,000 US corporations.

What do you think?

It is budget time for IT departments. What are your priorities for the next year? What is driving those priorities and how do you sell projects to the board? Tell us in an e-mail >> reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the website. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

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