Experts Weigh In on 2007 IT Trends

By Debra D'Agostino  |  Posted 11-28-2006

As expected, our report on the Top 30 IT Trends for 2007 generated quite a stir among readers. The study, culled from the 13 surveys CIO Insight conducted in 2006, broke down the largest upcoming trends in IT strategy, management, security, and technology. The biggest standouts our editors uncovered? Business process improvement will remain a top priority for CIOs, many of whom already consider it their most important responsibility. Service-oriented architecture will transform business technology across the nation—and the globe. New technologies will make securing the enterprise a greater challenge than ever before. And the lines between business and IT will blur even more rapidly as more IT executives are plucked from the business ranks.

But some of the world's leading IT experts had their own opinions on the coming year's biggest IT trends. Chuck Martin, chairman and CEO of Madbury, N.H.-based NFI Research, says the crossover between business and IT is the most important trend. "The biggest issue facing the majority of businesses in the next year is business growth," says Martin. "For the past few years, business efficiency has been king, but now companies are looking to grow. This means greater collaboration between business and IT will be necessary so that all parties can focus on how to achieve the desired growth."

Jerry Luftman, associate dean and distinguished professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology, agrees that IT-business alignment is a "pervasive leader," but argues that information governance is the most important trend. "One would hope it covers things such as having a formal process where IT and business executives work together to make IT decisions, apply portfolio assessments, and evaluate IT contributions to the business," he says.

Of course, not everyone agrees with CIO Insight's forecasts. "All 30 predictions have missed the boat," says Howard Rubin, a senior Gartner advisor and professor emeritus at Hunter College. The biggest trend Rubin sees is in IT economics. "Data is finally becoming available within companies to help executives understand and adjust their IT economics and performance to tune their investments, link IT to business performance, and produce and implement resilient operating models," he says. Better benchmarking means that companies can now leverage Moore's law (the decreasing unit costs of technology with increasing power) instead of becoming victims of Moore's flaw (as unit cost goes down, business complexity goes up faster so that overall the total cost is higher). "The firms that can master the IT economy in the short term will have extreme competitive advantage until this becomes as rote as GAAP accounting," Rubin says.

John Parkinson, former chief technologist at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, feels that customer satisfaction—"and understanding what both internal and external customers want and need" —will be the most important driver for IT in 2007, but cautions CIOs to be mindful of other issues, particularly the role that outsourcing partners will play in helping companies comply with government regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley. "The risk involved in the implicit transfer of responsibility for regulatory compliance to unwilling or oblivious outsourcers" will continue to be a top issue for CIOs, he says.

Finally, experts argue at least one important trend is missing from this year's list. "I am surprised that there is nothing relating to IT human resources, such as attracting, developing and retaining talent," says Luftman. Martin of NFI Research agrees. "We see a great shortage of talent as businesses seek to increase and staff up to meet the demands of the market," says Martin. "This should continue to drive compensation; our own research shows the majority of businesses increasing compensation over the next 12 months."

Allan Alter, Dan Briody and John McCormick contributed to this report.