Key IT Trends for 2002: Midyear Update

Von Richard Fichera
Langsam zeichnet sich eine leichte Erholung der Konjunktur ab, doch weitgehend wird vorsichtig agiert. Bevor es zu Investitionen kommt, die sich vor allem kurzfristig rechnen müssen, werden eher die vorhandenen Ressourcen voll ausgeschöpft. Die treibenden Kräfte und Trends der IT-Entwicklung identifiziert Richard Fichera, Analyst der Giga Group.

In the context of global IT trends, we are leaving the unequivocal world of the French Academy painters, with a landscape dominated by the obvious towering events of Sept. 11, and moving into a slightly more ambiguous impressionistic period, where strong trends, while still there, are beginning to be modified by a host of diverse pressures that have overshadowed past shocks. Giga's midyear update finds us still in an environment where the fundamental business drivers of profitability and cost containment in the face of continued uncertainty are the dominant themes. While it appears that the overall global economic picture is more favorable than it was at our last update, the prevailing underlying mood is still one of caution, which is in turn reflected in the IT spending climate. Numerous surveys pretty much agree that IT spending is a good news/bad news sort of situation -- it's recovering substantially from the worst of the post-Sept. 11 lows, but is still far short of the heady days of 1997 through 2000. The shift in corporate mentality continues to manifest itself as a focus on cost savings and extracting greater value out of existing resources. Dramatic paradigm shifts continue to take a back seat to better selection and deployment of leading-edge technologies, and wholesale replacement to incremental changes that show near-term value. Management tendencies have followed suit, and companies are no longer willing to invest simply out of fear of being "Amazon-ized," but increasingly insist on demonstration of tangible paybacks. We continue to see CIOs acting as leaders in business rather than as senior technologists. At the same time that we see a landscape dominated by an increasingly familiar motif -- gradual recovery and a continuation of a new cost-sensitive ethos that was largely lacking in previous years -- we also have an overlay of pressures associated with recent corporate drama, in this case, the largely unexpected meltdown of Enron, which has caused ripples throughout the services industry, and the amazingly acrimonious merger of Hewlett-Packard (HPHP) and Compaq. Our previous trends article noted that the post-Sept. 11 landscape did not, contrary to immediate post-disaster expectations, indicate there had been an immediate investment in reorganization for survivability, and that security investments were focused more on improvements in existing procedures and technologies. In the subsequent six months we have seen a pattern of increased investment in business continuity, but these investments are competing with other corporate priorities, rather than getting an automatic green light, as was expected immediately post-Sept. 11. How quickly we forget. As always, to understand the trends we see in our midyear update, we need to understand their underlying drivers, those forces that cause the trends, since changes in these drivers are what shape the changes in the trends. Overarching Drivers Modest economic recovery: The speed at which the anticipated recovery plays out will be the most important and widespread macro-economic driver for the industry today and for the near-term future. Recent studies show good prospects for modest 4 percent to 5 percent increases in IT budgets over last year, a substantial improvement over the earlier gloomy prognostications, but still well short of the earlier years when budget increases of 8 percent to 9 percent were common in already high-spending sectors. We must emphasize, however, that this modest secular upturn will not relieve earlier noted pressures to squeeze more value out of existing resources (or fewer resources). The new religion of cost-sensitive management seems to have been embraced with as much fervor as the dot com mantra "growth, growth, growth" was several years earlier, and will probably not disappear any time soon. Pressure on increasing client retention and profit per customer will remain in most industries as a constant companion. Increasingly mobile work force: Growth of this long-term trend continues, supported by improving networks and devices, and influenced by a very real post-Sept. 11 desire to reduce business travel due to inconvenience, anxiety and budget reductions. Earlier perceptions that companies are deliberately making their workforce mobile to improve survivability are probably overplayed, with major location decisions still being driven by the traditional factors of location of staff and cost, with a few prominent exceptions, not surprisingly concentrated in New York and New Jersey. Demand for improved security: If anything, the frequency of both damaging cyber-attacks and a flood of high-profile security holes in common products, with a strong focus on MicrosoftMicrosoft offerings, has increased awareness of security. Part of the fallout from this has been that Microsoft has now publicly stated that security will take priority over new functions in future software developments. Overall reduction in demand for IT people, but continued high demand in key skill areas: This is another trend that has been stable since our last update. Though the demand for IT professionals has shrunk, the demand for skills in key areas, such as project management, data, security and Java development, have remained high. Vendor drama: The proposed merger of HP and Compaq, still at issue as we go to press, has had interesting ripples throughout the industry. With the vote and subsequent challenges coming right in the middle of a major technology refresh cycle for Intel servers, many enterprise customers have deferred purchases, and competitors IBMIBM and DellDell are obviously positioning themselves to take advantage of what at best will be a period of uncertainty. The largely unexpected transformation of Enron from one of the world's most valuable companies into the largest bankruptcy in history will ripple through many segments of industry, but from an IT perspective will very directly affect the services industry, triggering a shift from traditional Big Five consultancies to others such as Accenture, EDS, etc. Overarching Trends Short-term, clear payback is still a requirement to justify IT investments: The increased importance of optimization in customer relationship management (CRMCRM) systems and the demand for enterprise systems to be connected directly to increased sales or reduced costs show investments that can demonstrate quick payback will be chosen over those that can't. At the same time, previous investments in major systems are being scrutinized, and implementers are increasingly being asked to prove the systems have delivered on their promise. Cost is now just one factor, and along with value, risk and flexibility, it must be considered. Demand for improved security: Portal vendors, wireless device manufacturers and others are increasing the protection built into their systems. End users are combining physical security with computer security and hiring chief security officers to have the clout, create the urgency and take on a more holistic view of security. Continued high demand in key skill areas: While the demand for IT personnel in aggregate has fallen, the demand for skills in key areas remains high. Project and account managers are needed for large outsourcing agreements. Application developers with Java and API expertise are needed as J2EE is increasingly viewed as a strategic application platform. Finally, data modelers and architects are in high demand to allow Web users access to back-end operational systems and allow customer data to be mined in corporate data warehouses. As part of the shift, we have seen major reductions in US IT groups coupled with increased capacity on the part of foreign outsourcers. Greater need for consolidating and integrating systems: The role of enterprise architecture takes on increased importance as the focus turns to consolidating systems and processes. Furthermore, it is increasingly recognized that an organization's competitive capability is impacted by the effectiveness of its electronic links that connect both external trading partners and internal operating units. Architecture, through the use of standards, components and patterns, provides the path of lowest risk to this. Wireless going mainstream, but devices are still an issue: While services provided by carriers will continue to improve in performance and geographical coverage, devices remain a problem. Different classes of user will need different combinations of data and voice devices with a variety of different capabilities, and the current available devices are still not adequate. Therefore, Giga concludes that these early generations of converged devices will not be suitable for most organizations' needs. Wireless will impose a significant burden on IT organizations as they attempt to provide cost-effective support and at least a minimal amount of security as they "learn by doing" with early deployments. Growing interest in J2EE and Microsoft.NET as strategic application platforms: Seventy-five percent of large companies in North America have now adopted J2EE as a strategic development platform. Web Services, however, are "the next big thing." The leading Web Services platform will be Microsoft.NET when it ships, although most J2EE vendors have some level of Web Services support today. Many organizations will have both environments, with the platform choices being driven by Web Services. While Microsoft.NET will make inroads due to cost pressure, J2EE will still dominate as a strategic platform choice due to its maturity and advantage of near-term payback. OutsourcingOutsourcing is growing, but changing: The growth in outsourcing will continue in the 10 percent to 20 percent range, with the greatest growth seen not in traditional outsourcing -- data centers and IT infrastructure -- but in business process outsourcing (e.g., order processing, benefits management). Furthermore, changes are seen inside the traditional outsourcers as the acquisition of application service provider (ASP) vendors lets them add rapid deployment, usage-based costing models to their existing services. Finally, we will see changes in contracts with outsourcers as end users, particularly in Europe, consolidate the number of outsourcers they must manage and shorten the average contract length. A wave of new core system technology: A major series of announcements in the area of bladed and modular servers, some based on proprietary RISC/Unix and others based on Intel CPUs, will radically change the price-performance options available to data centers. At the same time price performance improves, which is hardly news, vendors are beginning to roll out high-end systems based on Intel processors, which promise to bring many of the advantages that previously differentiated proprietary RISC/Unix systems to Intel-based servers. As a result, we expect the relative competitive position of Intel-based systems and their dominant operating systems to improve. Centralization of accountability is increasing: Nine out of 10 organizations that are reorganizing are going through some form of centralization to a single CIO. Even those areas that have resisted this trend, particularly financial services and government, are now following it. In many cases, the term "centralization" is not used; instead, "shared services" or "centers of excellence" are used. The end result, however, is the same: Accountability and reporting are consolidated to a smaller number of people, sometimes simply to the CIO. Buying decisions are going back to basics: Customers are looking for client references, sound methodologies, strong financials and vendors that create long-term relationships. Alles zu CRM auf Alles zu Dell auf Alles zu HP auf Alles zu IBM auf Alles zu Microsoft auf Alles zu Outsourcing auf

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