IT Plays Crucial Role During Recession, Finds Accenture

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Businesses have heavily reliant on their IT infrastructure to see them through the worst of the economic downturn, a study from Accenture has found

A new study from IT services giant Accenture has found that most businesses have been highly reliant on IT to get them through the recession of 2009.

Seventy-two percent of senior managers now place a higher value on the role of information technology because of the economic crisis, according to a December Accenture study of more than 550 executives.

IT is seen as a critical component of helping businesses recover from the poor economic conditions, and managers are looking to invest in technology in 2010 by spending either on selective projects or across the board. And it’s not only CIOs who are expecting to have technology-spend budgets: 62 percent of non-IT executives said they will be investing.

“While other operational budgets are being slashed, global firms look toward IT as a way to rebuild strength,” said Keith Haviland, an Accenture director for systems integration, in a statement. “Far greater efficiencies and cost savings can be realised through automation across technologies, faster access to the benefits of emerging technologies such as SAAS and open source coupled with flexible frameworks of integrated tools and metrics to track returns on investment.”

This is good news for IT managers who have seen staffing and budgets slashed in 2009, rather than funding for new projects.

Cost-cutting has not disappeared completely; execs have ranked three areas as being key to keeping costs under control in IT projects: “Ensuring the stability and business relevance of project requirements; the replacement or rationalisation of existing systems; and movement to open platforms,” said Accenture in a statement.

So what areas of IT will see the most funding? Server virtualisation and consolidation (44 percent) and service-oriented architecture (31 percent) were two of the top areas Accenture noted.

Also labelled was “e-business” (32 percent), but it isn’t totally clear whether that is e-commerce-related, or what the underlying technologies are that will support it.

“Just how indispensable IT has become to business survival and leadership is proven by the anticipated increase in investment over the next year, despite the challenging economic conditions,” said Haviland in the statement.

In the United States, 87 percent of respondents believe that they are under pressure to deliver projects that include more flexibility than previously required. More than 75 percent of global companies are using metrics to measure finance, productivity and progress on IT projects, but only 27 percent are using specific governance frameworks or specific methodologies (think SCRUM, Agile, etc.). In roughly half of the cases, however, metrics are partially implemented.

“The results of the survey show that firms recognise the need to invest in technology to defend and accelerate their competitive position, even in difficult times, which has not always been the case in the past,” said Haviland. “The turmoil over the last 18 months has underscored the need for further flexibility and scalability to stay ahead in business and drive agile business change.”

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