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Blog: Why Not an IT Bailout? A Modest Proposal

Blog: Why Not an IT Bailout? A Modest Proposal

A recent CIO article caught my attention. Essentially, it suggests that despite current hard times, companies should continue to spend money on storage and disk management systems, business intelligence, virtualization, security and, of course, cloud computing. (After all, what IT story would be complete these days without a reference to cloud computing?) The story's point is that investing in these technologies will save money (someday) and put companies in an advantageous competitive position once the bad times end and the good times return. In fact, the article concludes with an IDC projection saying that although the tech industry "will lose more than $300 billion in revenue" during the next four years, "IT spending will make a full recovery and enjoy growth rates nearing 6 percent by 2012."

In other words, happy days are just around the corner.

I have no idea how IDC knows that 2012 is the magic year when everything will turn around but, unfortunately, my crystal ball has been in storage for some time (in my closet, not in the clouds). IDC's, apparently, is all polished up and working overtime. However, what I do know, what everyone knows, is that not many enterprises have a lot of loose change lying around to invest in anything that doesn't show an immediate ROI, let alone puffy clouds. I'm not saying that companies should hunker down in their foxholes, do nothing, and wait until all this blows over, but I do think we all need a little help. I mean, the banks, the brokerages, and the automakers have been lining up with their hands out, why not us IT folk?

Accordingly, I propose that CIOs lobby Congress to get our fair share of that $700 billion economic bailout package. After all, technology is just as important to U.S. business as, say, GM's continued ability to provide the public with the Hummers they don't want. And by giving IT its fair share of any bailout money, Congress can help all industries equally.

But seriously, while I see the value in technologies like virtualization and, yes, even cloud computing for the future of IT, we also have seen technology (especially new, sexy, much-hyped technology) become an end in itself rather than an enabling force for value creation. Everything has its proper time and proper place. So while service provider-based clouds make sense for data backup and ASP services like Salesforce.com (CRM), it would be foolish to even think about spending money to move ERP and critical back office systems into this environment anytime soon.

Realistically, if you want to get the budget and time necessary to create long-term business value, you'd better be delivering immediate ROI and implementing projects with fast payback. Now is not the time to take on new projects that will require more staff, especially if you expect to reduce head count or even keep it flat. For projects that do have strategic importance, make sure you can garner the resources necessary to assure quick success.

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