Welcome to budget season, the annual end-of-year hand-wringing process during which CIOs determine where precious IT budget dollars will be spent in the year ahead. Amid all of the breathless predictions about where 2012’s IT dollars will go–Cloud! Social! Mobile!–exactly how any one particular CIO will spend his or her organization’s money depends largely upon the industry in which that business operates. (For more on IT budget trends, read our exclusive 2012 IT Investment Patterns Study.)
We’ve asked CIOs from three very different industries–engineering, health care and hospitality–to share with us their IT priorities for 2012. While each organization has very different needs, a common theme runs through all industry sectors: CIOs are focused on ensuring that their IT environments are agile enough to handle emerging IT delivery models.
Whether that means beefing up capabilities on the mobile front, jettisoning commodity IT assets in favor of the cloud, streamlining access to customer information or modernizing aging legacy applications, IT leaders are looking to propel their organizations into a new era–especially when a few bucks can be saved along the way to mitigate the costs of new technologies. “Many, or most, of the investments for 2012 are focused on either gaining agility or pushing innovation,” says Phil Garland, U.S. CIO advisory services leader for consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers. “Cost reduction is still big, but there’s an even greater emphasis on the other two.” (For more, here are Five Questions to Answer Before You Commit IT Budget Dollars.)
Few companies illustrate this give-and-take better than Psomas, a Los Angeles-based engineering firm that’s seen its number of employees shrink to 500 from 1,000 over the past four years. Rather than shy away from making any significant IT investments, though, CIO Chris Pinckney is forging ahead, focused on establishing an IT environment that takes full advantage of mobile capabilities. In doing so, he hopes to put Psomas in position to pounce on opportunities when better economic times arrive.
“When the recession ends, it’s not going to end evenly,” says Pinckney. “We want to be able fill needs on any project with talent from anywhere.”