CIO spoke to three Australian CIOs from the CIO Executive Council to get their response the latest Forecast for Management Survey from IDC and discover their views on IT budgets and spending, the impact of the global financial crisis and the top challenges and priorities for CIOs now that the crisis appears to be easing.
Rob Livingstone, CIO, Ricoh
RETAINING TOP STAFF
This is my first exposure to the survey in detail, but a lot of what I’ve seen reinforces my suspicions of what’s been happening out there. But I’ve never seen this kind of mixed environment before; usually there tends to be an across-the-board slowdown or an across-the-board increase.
This is a mixed environment rather than an overall business slowdown. Some businesses are still hurting and others are going crazy with work that has to be done and increasing budgets. The top challenges are cost reduction and staff retention, which reinforces this result. Organisations that are on the ascendency are in the staff retention pool, and those that are not are in the cost-cutting pool.
This reinforces my own concerns about staff departures as the economy starts to pick up. I think this is one of the stand-out issues at the moment, because up until now people have not moved because of the risks. As an employer, we’re looking very carefully at specific staff retention strategies in IT.
Parts of the business community are still battling or are still in ‘lock-down mode’ in terms of salaries and other things which can negatively impact staff sentiment. But other industries are going gang-busters, so that might create additional incentive for staff to move. Many businesses have also unleashed a lot of pent-up demand for business change projects, which means a vast amount of work for IT. They want to refresh systems or change business processes and that translates to a spike in the workload for IT to support those changes.
In my personal experience, our project load has actually increased in the last 12 months even though things were on the decline in the initial stages of the GFC. That’s purely because the majority of our effort is spent on value-creating projects and the minority of IT’s time is spent on keeping the lights on. It’s a different situation in different industries, but because we operate from a fixed staff headcount, our project load was basically a prioritisation issue rather than upscaling to meet the demand. Nevertheless, the project load did increase because of the high expectations of the business to reduce cost and drive efficiency.
Angelo Grasso, CIO, Aristocrat
FEWER WILLING TO PAY MAINTENACE?
I think there weren’t many large surprises in terms of where investments are going, but it clearly depends on which industry you’re in.
Some areas of Australian industry are going great guns. For example, there is the Rudd Government’s stimulus approach and it’s large projects -- the companies who are upstream from that are faring quite well, especially engineering companies.
Conversely there are companies in a number of industries that are still feeling the GFC and probably haven’t started to see any light at the end of the tunnel, so their investments are remaining quite flat. There’s definitely an industry diversity there.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.