Economic downturn sharpens focus for IT chiefs, says user forum

Corporate IT departments are more focused on solving immediate business problems in the economic downturn than ever before

Corporate IT departments are more focused on solving immediate business problems in the economic downturn than ever before, according to a leading IT user group.

They are concentrating on innovative ways to improve the efficiency of the business and cut costs, David Roberts, chief executive of The Corporate IT Forum told Computer Weekly.

Corporate users of IT who make up the Forum members say they are increasingly being asked to find innovative technologies to help firms meet thier financial targets.

They are relying less on theoretical projections by research firms for guidance and looking instead to the practical experience of their peers across all industries, said Roberts.

“We are seeing an increased demand for information about how other organisations are tackling specific problems like end-user authentication,” he said.

The Forum’s member-led agenda for future workshops includes topics such as optimising project management tools, offshore application development and using social networking for business.

According to Roberts, end-user forums made up of 20 people with 10 years’ experience in a particular topic in effect deliver 200 years of collective experience.

“This is valuable in helping to make better decisions and avoid mistakes that have been made in the past. It takes out a lot of debate and gives clearer indications of what options to follow,” he said.

Armed with a better understanding of what is going on in other organisations, Roberts said CIOs can engage with the business at a higher level and in greater depth.

Another trend in the economic downturn is an increased interest by IT departments in benchmarking themselves against their peers.

“It is reassuring to know others are in the same boat and achieving similar results under the same difficult conditions,” said Roberts.

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