A Fell swoop on IT future

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Australia's IT business landscape for the next six months will remain characterised by the challenge to lift productivity while focusing internally on earning more from existing investments, a senior IDC analyst claimed.

Chris Fell, IDC MD and Vice-President for Australia and New Zealand, in a keynote presentation at IDC Directions this week, said the sustained environment of uncertainty would keep the IT sector focused on core competencies and limited by tight financial scrutiny.

“Number one priority will be to increase productivity, internal focus and get more from existing investments. Most interestingly, business will be looking to keep and exploit existing customers,” he said. “Expansion to new markets and geographies is very low priority.”

Fell predicted mobile & wireless, outsourcing, security & business continuity, and integration would continue as hot buttons for IT growth.

However, the strong focus on short term, realisable goals could be mitigated by the trend for a more mobile workforce and increasingly flexible, adaptable organisations.

“Thirty per cent of Australia's workforce is out of the office for 60 per cent of the time,” Fell said. “Mobile devices are becoming standard rather than the exception.”

Staff increasingly needed to be on the move while continuing to access corporate information and knowledge, providing opportunities for IT.

“Shorter time frames, flexible adaptable organisations, complex business networks. It's quite a challenge,” Fell said.

IT providers should focus on offering products and services that improve systems infrastructure. Many companies still found their overall IT architecture too complex and were taking a step back, looking at what they have and how they could link it all together without adding new elements, he said. “Users are frustrated and upset by the lack of productivity gains and competitive advantage from these significant investments in IT [that they have already made],” Fell said.

He believed end-users had reached the “next level” of sophistication, in that they were now seeking more industry-specific answers to their business challenges instead of simply buying a horizontal IT application or implementation.

A trend towards greater integration with partners meant a stronger focus on supply chain dynamics. A pragmatic approach was required to harness the complexity of such multi-partner supply chains.

He said 65 per cent of companies now have an IT decision committee, steered more often by executives rather than technical directors or CIOs. Top managers were the people IT vendors must target. “Top management has veto power 70 per cent of the time,” Fell said.

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