Scaling Back in the Economic Downturn

How IT organizations are scaling back their operations and handling the resulting upsurge in work.

"Doing more with less" is one of those recession-era cliches that always makes me wince. What are we meant to be doing more and less of, exactly? More work with less reward? More reality with less sugarcoating?

"Like a tank, the recession continues to roll right over companies," is the lead sentence in Senior Editor Kim S. Nash's cover story this month ("The Complexity of Reduction"), and that image seems incredibly apt. Across every industry and every sector of the economy, we're all feeling this heavy, flattening impact of the global downturn.

For IT organizations at companies that are dramatically scaling back in their operations, the complexity of cutbacks becomes evident in the sudden upsurge of work that must get done swiftly once layoffs, plant closings or sudden mergers are announced.

Our cover story takes an unblinking look inside several companies that are managing the painful practicalities of downsizing. Not just the physical labor of carting around disconnected servers or ripping out network wiring—but the legal implications of smartphones and thumb drives loaded with proprietary company data.

Sugarcoating is in short supply in this honest portrayal of how IT gets downsizing done right. But as one veteran manufacturing industry CIO puts it: "You have to stay positive and focused. This is where you figure out whether you can really manage or not. There's tons to learn if you don't get sucked into the black hole."

Other useful (and less painful) lessons are in this issue, as well. If IT's role in managing electricity consumption is on your mind these days, you'll want to check how Xcel Energy is ramping up its $100 million SmartGridCity pilot project ("Tech to Fine-Tune the Grid").

Our lead story in Run ("NBC's New Script") details how NBC Universal is leveraging business process management to streamline how it sells and prices advertising. Then in Thrive, we launch a new column (Center Stage) on public speaking and unveil some surprising survey results about CIOs who get fired ("Don't Be a Sitting Duck"). Wait'll you see how CIO dismissal rates compare to other senior execs like the CFO (not what you think). You may indeed be doing more with less these days, but you're not alone. Let us hear from you.

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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