CIOs seek better results, lower costs

IT leaders continue to focus on reducing costs, while improving productivity and effectiveness

CIOs and IT leaders can see the light at the end of the dark economic tunnel, but that hasn’t shifted the majority of their focus from increasing productivity and reducing costs, according to recent research.

More than half of nearly 250 CIOs, CTOs and IT executives surveyed by the Society for Information Management (SIM) said their top business concern in 2009 is business productivity and cost reduction. About one-third of respondents noted IT and business alignment as a concern, followed by close to one-fourth who indicated they were concerned with business agility and speed to market. Nearly 20% of those surveyed by SIM said business process re-engineering topped their list and 17% listed IT cost reduction, which ranked fifth among IT management concerns in SIM’s 2009 IT Industry Trend Survey.

“The results of the study confirm that the economic downturn has caused a significant shift in priorities,” said Jerry Luftman, a former SIM vice president and executive director of Graduate Information Systems Programs and distinguished professor at Stevens Institute of Technology, in a statement. “IT executives are focusing on ensuring that business is conducted efficiently to get more mileage out of their budgets.”

And while cost-cutting remains a priority, SIM’s findings show that IT compensation might not continue to be impacted. Some 80% of respondents said staff salaries stayed the same or increased in 2009, and 91% expect pay to remain flat or increase in 2010. As for budgets, 52% experienced budget decreases in 2009, but looking ahead to 2010, 27% expects IT funds to increase and 45% expect finances the stay the same

Among the technologies and IT project areas that respondents indicated to SIM were a priority in the coming months are business intelligence, server virtualization, ERP systems, customer corporate portals, enterprise application integration and continuity planning/disaster recovery.

Separately, the Computer Technology Industry Association, or CompTIA, polled some 200 U.S.-based IT organizations and learned that overall the confidence in business is growing. The survey revealed that nearly half of companies polled expect to increase investment in research and development and other revenue generating initiatives. It also found that nearly one-third plan to increase spending on technology. And more than half of those surveyed expect to keep staff levels the same, while nearly 30% expect to increase hiring in the next six months.

Looking ahead “67% of firms rate the outlook for the IT industry positively, compared to 55% today,” the report states.

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