What stays and what goes: CIOs shuffle IT project priorities

Responding to rapidly shifting business needs, CIOs are reprioritizing IT projects to position their organizations for future growth.

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The coronavirus pandemic has CIOs reshuffling their IT project deck to shore up operations in the near term and bolster their companies for the long term. Since March, IT leaders have fortified business continuity by boosting network bandwidth, increasing VPN licenses, rolling out new collaboration tools, and taking other steps to better enable remote work.

Now CIOs are rethinking their 18-month plans, forgoing planned upgrades while fast-tracking productivity, automation and other strategic initiatives that better position them to serve customers, often in a digital, contactless fashion.

Hoarding cash for the future

But here’s the challenge: CIOs have a backlog of IT projects on their plates and less cash to invest in them, as CFOs clamp down budgets, says Gartner analyst John-David Lovelock. "Cash was king — now it's emperor," Lovelock tells CIO.com. And when organizations don't know how much cash they're going to make in a year, they hold onto it dearly, he adds.

Decisions around what stays versus what goes vary by sector, but trends straight out of the corporate IT cost-cutting playbook are emerging, according to Lovelock. Initial cuts appear in discretionary spending on laptops, tablets, smartphones and printers, as well as data center upgrades. CIOs are renegotiating or differing recurring payments and downsizing vendors. 

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