Cost controls compel 'less is more' IT approach

IT is maturing, shedding the free-spending salad days of its teenage years and is forcing IT professionals to optimise razor-thin budgets, existing investments and depleted staff.

To squeeze additional value out of IT investments, Royal & Sun Alliance CIO Rob Flannagan is taking a broad approach that oversees the entire organisation's IT.

"Our approach, in effect, is to have an understanding of architectural design; this means removing duplication and complexity and having a roadmap for our products, tools and software," Flannagan said.

Tight budgets are business as usual for those who work in government, according to a NSW area health service IT manager, who requested anonymity.

"We always have to cut costs, that's how we operate," she said, adding that leveraging technology is no longer the IT shop's focus, which is now all about managing maintenance and licensing contracts.

"We want to make sure we are getting value from these contracts. We are trying to get clever in our relationship with vendors; corporate governance is putting huge demands on us," the IT manager said.

"It is no longer just about the technology, we want the vendor we deal with to carry the can too. I know the term 'partnership' sounds corny, but [partnerships] are becoming a reality and starting to have real meaning. We should be investing in each other."

Cost is king in the current economic climate with Gartner releasing a report predicting worldwide IT spending will rise 7 per cent in 2003, but any significant changes probably won't occur until the second quarter.

Despite its prognostications for a bounce back in IT spending next year, even Gartner analysts admit that its clients should brace for more tough times ahead. "As we look to 2003, it doesn't look like the roller coaster is going to calm down at all," analyst Ellen Kitzis said.

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