Downturn perception versus reality?

I am in two minds about the feedback we have received recently through our research which tells us that IT professionals are generally not predicting doom, gloom and/or panic as a result of the credit crunch and associated economic downturn. I have written a couple articles which summarise the sentiment we are picking up (see here and here), and the level-headedness is on face value very encouraging.

But I can’t shake this nagging thought that people are simply underestimating the degree to which their IT budgets are going to be hit. This is one of thoose situations that arise from time to time when the feedback we receive through surveys and other input does not sit well with your instincts as an analyst.

Then again, perhaps I am being unduly influenced by news reports of household names in the retail industry going under, and the general sentiment in the mainstream media and amongst financial analysts that 2009 is going to be really tough in most markets. The BBC today has been forecasting unemployment figures shooting up to near 3 million again in the UK over the coming 12 months, for example, with the service sector being hit particularly hard.

However bad it gets, though, the good thing is that IT departments, for the time being at least, still seem to have a little time and budget to prepare for the worst. This got Tony and I thinking about the kinds of things IT professionals could consider doing to put themselves and the companies they work for into the best position to manage things as efficiently and effectively as possible through the hard times that are likely to come.

As is the nature of these things, the more we talked, the more we could think of, and we ended up turning the whole discussion into a full 15 page report on the kinds of measures that could be considered, from the obvious infrastructure improvement stuff, through various ways of enabling the business itself to respond appropriately to increased economic pressure and uncertainty. We have also included some thoughts on one of Tony’s particular domains of interest and expertise – alternative funding and financing options for IT investment – an often neglected area that could come into much sharper focus over the coming months.

Anyway, if you are interested in our thoughts and conclusions, the report is entitled “IT Delivery in the Downturn”, and, as per the usual drill, it can be downloaded free of charge from here.

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