The economy and managing technology through a potentially difficult recession are the issues foremost on the minds of senior IT executives this week as they gather in Orlando, Fla., for SIMposium, the annual conference put on by the Society for Information Management.
But the focus, at least for now, is not be on how to trim the IT budget or reduce staff, says Jerry Luftman, a distinguished professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology. Instead, IT managers are most concerned about how they can help their organization's business units leverage technology to meet the tough challenges that lie ahead.
"In previous downturns or recessions, the directive from senior management to IT was always cut, cut, cut," says Luftman, who was interviewed by CIOZone just prior to the opening of the SIM conference. "But we're not hearing that this time around. Rather than see IT as a necessary evil, they're seeing it as an opportunity and a vehicle to improve and reduce expenses across the enterprise.
"That's a very positive story for IT in today's economy," he adds.
That change in attitude was expressed clearly in an annual survey of SIM members on their top concerns and spending priorities for 2008. Luftman, who conducted the study on SIM's behalf, is set to present the findings to SIMposium attendees this week.
In fact, out of 40 different areas of concern, the need to cut staff or requests from senior management to trim staff came in last.
Instead, IT and business alignment, regained its spot as the No. 1 management concern for 2008. It had been the top issue among CIOs from 2003 to 2006, but slipped to No. 2 in the 2007 survey.