The Future of I.T.: What's on Tap for 2007 and Beyond

By Allan Alter  |  Posted 01-16-2007
Finding 1
Customer Service Surges as a Top Priority for 2007
Upgrading infrastructure and improving processes remain high priorities. But many companies now appear to be ready to take it to the next level, by harnessing their improved technology platforms to build strategic applications and improve customer service. The move to better customer service is especially important now, since (as our November 2006 Customer Strategies Survey showed) customer satisfaction with service has declined. Improving alignment is also a top priority. Yes, alignment is always important—but it's especially necessary when IT organizations are determining which new applications to build, and what services matter the most to their customers.

Finding 2
Business Intelligence Tops the Strategic Technology List
Since customer service and growth are important, it makes sense that the most important technology in 2007 is business intelligence. BI is a family of technologies that promises to offer better insight into customer behavior and market opportunities. Business process management technologies should do the same for internal processes. However, while BI gets good grades for meeting expectations, BPM suites and platforms often fall short (as our Customer Strategies Survey found). The other top technologies on the list are no surprise—they've been critically important for years, not only for pulling data together, but also for helping users make sense of it.

Finding 3
CIOs Are Optimistic About Growth
Many believe their own company's performance will outpace the economy. True, one in three expects the U.S. economy will grow more slowly or shrink. But most executives expect growth to keep increasing at the same rate, or better. Many who work for companies that operate overseas believe business will improve there, too. Apparently, optimism about their own growth opportunities, and the importance of IT, are so strong that relatively few executives think a mild economic downturn could force them to start reducing IT spending and staffing. That's good news for a nervous IT workforce—at least for 2007.

Finding 4
The Business Environment in 2012
What lies ahead? A better-connected world, and new IT regulations. IT executives foresee a world in which far more consumers have broadband connections, bringing more opportunities for online business. In particular, CIOs at large companies foresee operating in a global IT environment, working with offshore outsourcers, or supporting facilities in China. The most worrisome problem CIOs predict is a decline in college graduates majoring in IT-related fields. But in many ways, 2012 sounds a lot like 2007. Consider this: Many executives expect to be hit by new IT regulations, and agree that a new business idea or teen fad could change their IT priorities and opportunities.

Finding 5
The IT Organization in 2012
Go join the IT organization, young man (and woman). We asked respondents questions about their own companies, and about IT organizations in general. Executives say that outsourcing and offshoring are increasing, but these are often reluctant choices. Half of IT executives believe their IT organizations will morph into a crew of managers, analysts and planners guiding an army of contract labor. But with IT executives pessimistic about IT college grads, and so many expecting their IT organizations to grow (or at least not shrink), most feel they have no alternative: They will need to outsource, or hire more H1B visa holders. Considering the expected influx of foreign labor, outsourcing, and the melding of the IT and business functions, the IT organization of 2012 will undoubtedly look very different from that of today.

Finding 6
Security and Risk in 2012
IT security will remain a problem that can't be solved, only managed. IT executives are not optimistic that security risks will go away, and only one in ten believes technology can solve IT security problems. Instead, most envision a future where identity theft and virus attacks will just get worse. Many expect another terrorist attack (though not a widespread cyber-attack) on U.S. soil. And most expect privacy laws to grow tighter and tougher. In this high-risk IT environment, adopting encryption and hiring a chief risk officer look like necessary steps to many. But IT executives still aren't comfortable outsourcing security to a vendor.

Finding 7
Technologies in 2012
It's going to be an SOA world. After testing SOA and Web services for several years, IT executives are confident they have what it takes to be the fundamental IT architecture into the next decade. Between SOA and software as a service, many companies will feel free to step back from traditional enterprise applications and return to a best-of-breed approach. Other big news: Many expect a significant increase in mobile e-business, some foresee a new generation of computers with a Google-like GUI, and only a third believe open source will dominate the software universe. The most intriguing result? About 40 percent think a new "transformative" technology will have an impact akin to the Internet. In short, expect the unexpected.

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