By Maximilian Clarke
A new report - Cisco TechWatch 2012 - released by Cisco reveals the technology priorities and business challenges which senior IT decision makers in the UK and Ireland anticipate in 2012.
The report finds that on the surface IT decision makers are upbeat about 2012, with high aspirational goals for deploying technology which can innovate and drive their organisations forward. In particular they see Cloud (rated number one) and mobile device support / remote access (rated number three) as key priorities.
However, deeper analysis finds that IT budgets for 2012 will be dominated by investing in maintaining existing technology. IT leaders appear conflicted between the desire to implement technology that innovates and the need to meet corporate security and compliance needs. TechWatch 2012 outlines two major sources of tension: firstly, between the desire to innovate versus the need to fund ‘business as usual’ and secondly, control of new technologies versus the use of these technologies to empower users.
2012 will be a year of technology ‘trade-offs’ and compromise set against a backdrop of volatile economic conditions.
· Nearly two thirds see 2012 as an opportunity to improve the way that IT strategy aligns with corporate goals with just 15 per cent seeing it as a year of threats to the current alignment
· IT professionals have high aspirations for 2012, seeing it as a year of innovation and change (47 per cent) with less than a quarter (24 per cent) regarding it as a year of consolidation and review*
· Almost half (47 per cent) believe that 2012 will see their organisations improving company performance through increased IT investment. Only 24 per cent feel this can happen without IT investment*
· IT is more widely regarded as a strategic asset that drives company performance (56 per cent) than an operational necessity that supports company needs (30 per cent)
But 2012 spend doesn’t necessarily reflect a focus on innovation and change
· Almost half of budget is being spent on maintaining existing assets / infrastructure (48 per cent)
· Only £1 in every £5 is being spent on deploying new technologies
· Cost cutting is a focus (66 per cent) for 2012 with just 42 per cent focusing on improving company performance
“2012 has the potential to be the Year of the Technology Leader, when trailblazing companies realise the potential of tools such as cloud and mobile connectivity to revolutionise their industries," Ian Foddering, Cisco UKI CTO. "Those technology innovators who are not daunted by the economic uncertainty of the current climate, and are willing to invest in technology ahead of the curve, can take advantage of the ‘gear change’ the industry is experiencing in remote and service-based IT.”
The research further shows that despite ‘trailblazing’ aspirations, many IT leaders will be forced into trade-offs and making compromises in 2012. Key areas of conflict include: innovation against maintenance; collaboration against security or productivity and network reliability and security against flexibility and performance.
· 60 per cent think technology that enables greater user collaboration presents new security risks
· 37 per cent think that the use of social networks within organisation creates productivity challenges
· 56 per cent think the responsibility of IT is to control end user behaviour to reduce security risks
· 53 per cent say IT strategy considers network reliability / security to be more important than network performance / flexibility
Foddering continues, “The report implies that a significant number of IT leaders believe that in order to be secure, companies have to compromise on collaboration, user empowerment and network performance or flexibility. However, I don’t believe that this is a trade-off they have to make.
“Companies must balance commercial needs and avoid the tensions set between control and empowerment but there is no need to sacrifice innovation in the name of budgetary control or limit security and control of data in order to achieve employee autonomy. With proper planning and long-term technology investment through traditional capex models or through alternative investments initiatives, it is possible to balance these seemingly contradictory goals. There is a strong business case to be made for doing so, as the participants in the survey realise, and IT can become a strategic advantage for companies that align their spending with commercial productivity needs.”
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