I'm in the process of reviewing data from the IT Plans and Priorities panel survey which I've mentioned before on the blog. In fact, the last post on the survey was an invite I passed along to our readership and I hope that, as I churn through the data from the survey, I'll be reviewing some of your inputs.
One of the early findings that I'll be writing and publishing formal research on is the fact that, while some areas such as devices (computing clients and mobile devices) may see longer refresh cycles in light of the economy, and certainly when faced with actual budget cuts in 2009, areas such as networking are likely to remain relatively static with some small increases in spending. I attribute the latter to the continued build-out of services such as Wi-Fi networking. Formerly a convenience or "nice to have" element of the network, Wi-Fi is increasingly critical to connect mobile devices and mobile users to applications that house ever more critical, role-specific data.
There's nothing like an economic downturn to catalyze change in information management (IM) strategies. Someone asked me recently, "Isn't information management a discretionary spend that will likely get cut in an economic downturn?" He cited the fact that tools for collaboration, content, and business intelligence are traditionally difficult to financially justify, "even when times are good." He's right about the latter—most Forrester clients struggle with assigning specific financial value to information management investments. In fact, as Forrester learned recently, many companies can't even tell you what it costs them to run their own email. Similarly, over 90% of information management professionals we surveyed recently reported having no way to measure whether employees are even using their corporate portals, let alone realizing financial benefits from them. Yet I doubt the measurement difficulties will necessarily lead to prolonged decreases in investment overall. Two reasons:
IBM CEO Sam Palmisano gave a speech to the Council on Foreign Affairs in New York City on November 6, 2008. In the speech, he added his voice that that of Al Gore, Jeff Immelt, and Barack Obama to declare that the US can lead the world to prosperity (and out of this financial quagmire). He called his vision building a "smarter planet."
Here's how I see the smarter planet:
Intelligence and network connections are embedded in physical systems. Chips and bandwidth have helped optimize business processes and make information workers more productive. But information technology hasn't yet really helped optimize our physical systems. A company on a smarter planet will put computers and connections into every physical system so that machines can phone home, operating problems can telegraph themselves, and power grids and distribution systems can be monitored, controlled, and optimized. (Forrester first identified this trend of an extended "Internet of things" in 2001 with a report entitled "The X Internet.")
By Gil Yehuda Those who drink the Web 2.0 Kool-aid live in a idealistic world where we can mentally connect a great idea to a great implementation of that idea. We live on faith that the great implementation will come, since there are plenty of smart people out there who will eventually figure out how to make value out of technology building blocks. Sometimes our faith is tested when the killer-app does not show up for a long time. But evidence can restore our faith.
After more than 350 conservations with customers about the maintenance and support issue in the past 4 months, it’s becoming quite clear users expect from their software vendors. While those issues can be broken into tens of categories, three themes have emerged that include:
In a number of recent client interactions with both enterprise IT end users and vendors, the question of “Is the ‘green’ in Green IT dead?” has come up. Primarily driven by the current economic climate, IT end users want to understand how relevant the environmental benefits of Green IT should be to their strategic planning; likewise, vendors want to know how palatable green messaging of their products and services is to their customers.
The benefits of virtualization are quite obvious but when you start to really increase the density of virtual machines in order to maximize utilization suddenly it ain't such a simple proposition. The latest CPUs from AMD and Intel are more than up to the task of running 10-20 or more applications at a time. Most servers run out of memory and I/O bandwidth well before processing power. Recent announcements from the leading server vendors have been made to address the memory side by packing more DIMMs onto a single motherboard (including blade server boards), but you can only add so many Ethernet cards and Fibre Channel HBAs. Oh yeah, and then there's the switch ports to go with them (blade systems help a lot here).
With retail confidence and global cargo volumes at their lowest for 5 years, retailers face increased pressure to identify quick ways to minimize costs, reduce unplanned mark downs and avoid incidence of “out-of-stock”, while trying to stretch margins, improve the merchandizing mix and increase customer satisfaction.
One retail executive told Forrester “I have any number of proposals to engage in multi year, multi million IT projects. But we don’t have the luxury to indulge in those. My boss needs results now. I need to prove that we are making progress against our financial and strategic objectives in the next quarter or two.“
To help our readers, Forrester is currently exploring simple retail IT investments that can yield immediate results. Got ideas or input? Take our confidential survey on Retail IT Investment Priorities to help develop a framework that will help identify quick wins and self funding IT initiatives that are capable of generating returns for shareholders in six month or less.
In the wake of a year's worth of weakened financial indicators and federal government bail outs in the US, Forrester has forecasted an imminent economic slowdown and eventual recession. Recent inquiries highlight the many questions on clients' minds about IT prioritization and the future of tech spending in the face of a down economy. Inevitably companies are looking to cut expenses and rethink investments.
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