New customers - attracting and retaining them - will be the number-one IT priority in 2009, according to Gartner VP and research director Andrew Rowsell-Jones.
This is a very different scenario to 2006, where improving business processes currently rates as number one, followed by reducing cost. The number-two priority in 2009 will be expanding the use of information.
Rowsell-Jones said the 'next big thing' will not be a single piece of technology or point solution, it will be about leveraging information.
"We will be putting the 'i' back in CIO and the shift will be to the information piece of IT," he said.
Speaking to the more than 200 delegates at CIO magazine's Interact conference in Sydney last week, Rowsell-Jones said the volume of real-time information will increase 10-fold by 2015.
"If you feel bombarded by information now, you ain't seen nothin yet," he said.
Rowsell-Jones said IT budgets were increasing between 12 and 15 percent in 1987, compared to a 3 percent average today.
"This doesn't mean IT demands have gone away, but we are managing budgets in a mature way," he said.
"The good news is that IT is no longer seen as special; budgets are growing at the same rate as business."
Queensland's ICT assistant director general, Peter Grant, said the focus should be on improving what is already in place instead of looking for the next big thing.
"We are in the oil age, not the information age. When Canberra wants to solve a problem the usual solution is to pour concrete and burn oil by building more highways, not look at ICT solutions like telecommuting," Grant said.
Grant said another issue for the industry is falling IT enrolments in tertiary institutions, which have dropped 70 percent in the last five years. "Everyone is saying 2006 is a great year as IT enrolments have only fallen 15 percent," he said.
"Young people think we're nerds, have no social life, cannot communicate and sit in the corner working on PCs.
"This is so far from the truth, but we need to let young people know ICT is a great career choice with plenty of opportunity."
It wouldn't have been an IT conference without a few acronyms. When delivering his presentation on board and audit committee expectations, Rob Goldberg, risk advisory partner at KPMG, offered two pearls of wisdom.
Goldberg said IT professionals should try the Kiss (keep it simple stupid) approach when it comes to governance and think, WIIFM (What's in it for me?) when talking to business colleagues.
"Always put your self in the stakeholders shoes," he added.