Staff recruitment and retention critical
Without the right IT skills, organisations are struggling to meet business objectives and customer expectations. Finding and keeping skilled IT staff is the number one concern of senior IT managers in 2006. Without the right IT skills, key projects are being delayed and desired business objectives are not being achieved. While solutions seem thin on the ground, some organisations are paying for continued IT education of staff while others are sending IT staff offshore to ensure they remain challenged and get `big project' experience.
Minimal economic gloom
New Zealand IT managers are an optimistic bunch.
In the public sector it's business as usual, while in the commercial sector few senior managers seem fazed by the prospect of an economic downturn. While most say a downturn will cause a slow in business growth or revenue, confidence is high that respective organisations have the business strategies to cope. Some CIOs believe the impact of any economic downturn has been overstated.
Top management understanding of IT can improve
Multi-tasking senior managers are not as cognisant of the importance of IT as CIOs would hope.Senior IT managers find other senior stakeholders and business owners lack full understanding of the importance of IT, and the impact of IT projects on business success.
To combat this, senior IT managers are beginning to proactively engage with executive management to ensure improved understanding. Among other strategies, CIOs are realising the need to communicate IT department performance and achievements internally, and to market the CIO role to senior management.
Unbundling decision seen as positive
Most senior IT managers are quietly optimistic about the government¿s decision to unbundle the local loop.Organisations feeling the pinch of funding constraints and lowered revenues are hopeful new government regulations on the administration and operation of broadband and mobile telecommunications services will eventually lead to more cost-effective IT operations in areas including wide area networking and e-business projects. They hope the move will also lead to more cost-efficient support of mobile workforces and mobile devices.
It's a wireless world
As business demand for wireless services and mobile device use grows, so do wireless infrastructure projects.
New wireless infrastructure projects, particularly bigger capacity wireless LANs, are top of list for a large number of organisations this year.
However, the need to extend wireless infrastructure is tempered by concerns over the security threats created by ever higher numbers of wireless and wirelessly connected mobile devices within the organisation.</ol>
Knowledge is power
Knowledge management made a comeback in 2005, but this year, it is everyone's pet project. Knowledge management projects abound this year, with organisations keen to start reaping the competitive benefits of knowing what they know, keeping that knowledge up to date, and organising it so it can be accessed with ease by those who need it. Web portals are being improved and developed in tandem as internal and external access points for knowledge based systems.
Server virtualisation takes off
Virtualisation projects are paying for organisations keen to decrease the cost of IT operations.
Increasing the resources allocated to single servers through server virtualisation is hot this year. Reported benefits include a sometimes dramatic reduction in the capital cost of owning IT, faster IT service delivery, lighter server management demands, and an increase in IT department efficiency and physical space.
However, CIOs say mission critical applications should stay on dedicated servers to maximise recovery time in the event of server failure.
Collaboration is working
Where possible, like-minded organisations are teaming up and sharing IT resources.
Healthcare organisations, government departments and universities are leading the way for shared IT service models, and commercial organisations are looking to international offices for possible shared IT service efficiencies. In some cases, problems with IT staff recruitment and retention is driving an increased interest in shared service evaluation.
Strategic role creation and restructures on the rise
Organisations are creating strategic CIO-level positions alongside operational positions. New Zealand organisations are finding new ways of managing IT services and IT service teams by revising internal management structure and creating additional strategic IT roles.
As a result, the mindset of the strategic CIO is close to overall business directions and challenges and senior IT managers have an increasingly better overview of wider business goals and market activity. Operationally, there is a push for a professional IT service model staffed by `IT consultants' rather than `computer people'.
Outsourcing views cooling
Besieged by budget cuts and unimpressed with IT vendor mergers, outsourcing remains under review.
Smaller organisations in both the private and public sectors are considering reducing outsourcing costs by bringing IT function in-house.
However, a softly-softly approach is favoured, with a main concern the lack of sufficient IT staff to maintain IT functions in-house. There is also a preference to allocate valued internal staff to new project areas.
Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.