IT directors should beware of becoming fixated on cost cutting and must selectively invest in new technologies to improve business processes, according to analyst organisation Meta.
Opening Meta's 14th annual forum in Barcelona, chairman Dale Kutnick urged chief information officers (CIOs) to concentrate on how IT can deliver value across all lines of business.
"While cost cutting is critical, it is absolutely important that you make some investments now," Kutnick told the audience of IT directors and CIOs.
The organisation advises that web services, utility computing and wireless are technologies in which companies should consider making investments.
Organisations looking for competitive advantage are carefully investing in new technologies to create service-oriented approaches which improve business agility, efficiency and effectiveness, Kutnick noted.
"The best CIOs will become much more actively involved in the process side of the business, being called upon by their chief executives to help examine processes," he said.
"When we get through the cost cutting, the next three to four years will be about technology infusing process integration."
Although 2003 will be a year of uncertainty, IT departments should help businesses become more agile in order to take advantage of opportunities that emerge as the economy improves, according to Meta.
But IT organisations will have to fund any new projects by making their own operations more efficient, said Jean-Louis Previdi, the company's senior vice president and research director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
"Don't expect the business to give you any more money; you must find the funding from better value in your own departments," he said.
Technology investment decisions should be made by watching trends and managing a portfolio of IT applications, and deciding at which point on the adoption curve for each new technology to become involved, said Kutnick.
"Ask yourself whether you need to be on the leading edge, on the bleeding edge, or whether you can afford to wait."
But he warned of a vendor bloodbath in the next four to five years which will see numbers reduced from 8,000 to 2,000-3,000 despite a wave of new start-ups building applications on top of .Net or J2EE.
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