by Tim Lohman

CIO Summit 2009: CIOs in the middle of a technology renaissance

Jul 27, 20094 mins
IT Leadership

Despite being in the middle of a major recession, CIOs can look forward to a major period of growth through to 2012, according to IDC’s chief research officer, John Gantz.

Speaking at this year’s CIO Summit, held jointly with the CIO Executive Council, IDC and CIO Magazine, Gantz said while there had been five major global economic crashes in the last 50 years, there had only been three technology crashes in the same period.

Furthermore, these three crashes — the mainframe crash of the early ‘70s, the PC crash of early ‘90s and the Internet crash of the early ‘00s — did not coincide with economic crashes.

“We are in the middle of an economic crisis. . . but we are not in the middle of a technology crash; in fact we are in the middle of a technology renaissance,” Gantz said. “Every part of IT industry is flush with change, from the way we write software to our data centres and software-as-a-service.”

Be sure to check out the pictures from this year’s CIO Summit: CIO Summit 2009: A Gallery of Visual Highlights and CIO Summit 2009 — Part II, Time to Network

Supporting his claim, Gantz said that the technology boom and bust pattern typically operated on a 15-year cycle, with a new technology paradigm creating a speculative bubble followed by a crash within five years.

A more rational approach to the use of new technology then created business innovations and long-term growth, followed by a new technology paradigm and a restart of the cycle.

“Where we are now is about seven or eight years after the Internet crash, so we are lining up for the long growth period,” Gantz said. “So, as a community, IT is in a better shape than most industries to ride out the economic storm.”

The role IT is increasingly playing in the current economic crisis is that of a change agent, Gantz said, facilitating and steering the business transformations occurring as a response to the downturn.

However, Gantz said CIOs looking to help their organisation get through the recession need to be mindful of some major global IT challenges expected to play out in the four years to 2012.

These include a growth in staff numbers of only 10 percent through to 2012, meaning CIOs will have to continue to do more with less.

Thanks to the strong growth in virtualisation, the number of servers will also double between now and 2012, meaning more time spent on managing virtualised resources and the applications riding on them.

The number of customers, business partners and employees using mobile devices is expected to grow threefold during the same period, creating headaches around security and capacity planning, Gantz said.

“It won’t be long until iPhone applications are part of the enterprise application shop,” he said. “There will also be 3.6 times growth in non-traditional devices operating on the network. For IT that means issues around security, reliability, software control, telemetry control and operational control.”

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As reported in June, Information is expected to grow 5.1 times by 2012 creating security, privacy, management, and storage challenges, Gantz said.

The number of user interactions — the number of users times the number of ways users can communicate times the number of instances they communicate — is expected to grow 8.1 times over the same period.

“Who else but IT can facilitate end user enablement for Web 2.0?” Gantz said. “Who else can build on-request features, manage system capabilities, and enterprise policy on who in the enterprise can blog, for example.”

According to Gantz, technology areas CIOs should look to facilitate and lead this change include security management, mobile data, enterprise social media, business analytics, IT outsourcing and BPO, SaaS, virtual machines, search and discovery, storage replication and IT automation

Technologies that CIOs should still keep on their radar include: virtualisation management software, real time analytics, ethical hacking, IT driven sustainability, IP surveillance, location-based services, video search, compliance, reputation management software, and machine-to-machine data communications.

“The message is that tough times as these are economically, this is the best time in 15 years to use technology as a competitive advantage,” Gantz said.