Quick answers

Where's the spark in IT for you this year? Analyst and Intep IT and CIO forum manager Peter Hind reckons he is hearing about “lots of little projects” involving savvy IT departments delivering quick solutions which meet pressing needs. These projects often flow from business units seeing an opportunity or having a problem seeking IT’s help. IT in turn sets up small .Net or J2EE- based development teams that deliver a solution within two or three months. With all the talk of packaged software and outsourced code cutting it’s easy to forget that up to a quarter of IT department staff still work in application development, according to Hind’s figures. And it sounds like they’re delivering real business value.

Worms at work

Security technology and services may be only a small slice of the IT spend, but nobody argues that protecting the core transactional and business systems is essential. Add in increasingly onerous governance and compliance issues, Bagle and Beagle worms, e-mail scams and bogus ‘phishing’ Web site scams, and it’s no wonder that security is moving up the agenda for CIOs and IT managers. However, the “Worm Warfare” feature (from page 27) reminds us that fighting these threats isn’t mainly about spending money on security widgets, it involves a lot of messy but necessary boring drudgery in staff training and building a security conscious culture, ensuring physical security, mundane information validation and so on. It’s all been talked about for years, just a matter of actually having the discipline to do it.

By the way

US Senate protectionism centred on the IT industry is hilarious. How much more dominant of the worldwide IT industry could that arm of the US government want their country to be?

Last week the US Senate passed an “omnibus Appropriations Bill” totalling $US328 billion which included provisions that restrict government contractors from outsourcing work overseas. Naturally they are fearful of losing US jobs to places like India.

Many leaders in US business (inside and outside of the IT industry) are against the legislation as they see it as a harbinger of further protectionism which could damage US business efficiency and the world IT economy. They also fear the potential of sparking a tit-for-tat backlash. I think a bit of a backlash may not be an entirely bad thing as it’s about time much more of the worldwide IT&T spend was directed towards companies based outside of the US — whether these be providers of offshore outsourcing services, business applications, mobile communications or whatever.

I don’t accept that a globalised IT industry means half a dozen US megabrands, two from Europe, a couple from Asia, public sector telcos and not much else. I’m sure that the worldwide IT&T future will be more granular than that. I just hope that Australia can grab more than a branch-office stake.

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