[PRNewswire] While many information technology (IT) professionals are investing in specific areas of IT infrastructure, 55 percent say the economy has changed the role of IT and 51 percent say that budget constraints are the biggest barrier to their innovation, according to a new study commissioned by Microsoft Corp. and conducted by Harris Interactive(R) Inc. The study results indicate that IT professionals in the U.S. are devoting less budget to innovation than their counterparts in the U.K., Japan and Germany.
"Businesses that focus solely on reducing IT costs in this economy will not be as well positioned as those that develop new capabilities and solutions," said Bob Kelly, corporate vice president of infrastructure server marketing at Microsoft. "IT is uniquely capable of not only delivering bottom-line cost savings, but also providing innovative solutions that will help organizations weather the storm and thrive. Now, more than ever, IT is a strategic asset."
Innovation in a Challenging Economy
Of the four countries included in the study, the recession appears to make the biggest impact on IT innovation in the U.S. IT managers in Japan and the U.K. indicate they will devote 41 percent of their budgets toward innovation versus "keeping the lights on," or maintaining current systems. IT professionals in Germany plan to invest 35 percent, while their counterparts in the U.S. plan to spend only 29 percent on innovation. On average, IT professionals across all four countries say they will allocate 37 percent of their budgets to innovation in 2009. Only 22 percent of IT professionals cite giving the business a competitive edge as their current top priority.
"Companies that make smart investments in IT will gain a foundation for their business that empowers innovation, boosts productivity and, ultimately, helps improve the bottom line," Kelly said. "Investing in IT is a path to success, now and in the future."
The economy may also be diminishing investment in "green" IT innovation. Eighty-four percent of IT professionals consider green factors when making decisions about datacenters, but "green" plays into the final decision for only about half of those organizations (44 percent of the total).
Efficiency Versus Cost-Cutting
Though the economy seems to be affecting IT's ability to innovate, more survey participants are focused on driving business efficiency (48 percent) than on simply reducing IT costs (30 percent). Nearly two-thirds will increase their planned investment in at least one infrastructure technology, including virtualization, security, systems management and cloud computing, all of which can help organizations streamline operations and deliver business value.
Security Challenges and Solutions
Customers cite security as the No. 1 challenge in managing their infrastructure, and report that protection of customer and company data is the top security priority for IT decision-makers over the next one to three years (73 percent).
A majority of IT professionals view security as an enabler of business. More than half think that IT security responsibilities include advancing overall business goals (52 percent) and increasing end-user productivity (51 percent).
The Benefits of Innovation
NuStar Energy LP is an example of a company that has used IT to thrive and grow in a volatile economy. The company, which owns an oil and gas transportation and storage network and an asphalt refining and marketing business, has grown rapidly through acquisitions and recently joined the Fortune 500. NuStar relies on Windows Server, Microsoft System Center and Microsoft Forefront software to help manage and secure its 8,491 miles of pipeline, 82 terminals and two asphalt refineries, which have a combined throughput capacity of 104,000 barrels per day.
"Our chief challenge as an IT organization is responding quickly to what the business requires us to do," said Robert Amos, manager of infrastructure systems at NuStar Energy. "We are committed to Microsoft because it provides integrated, familiar infrastructure that is simpler to manage across the company, helping us stay compliant and competitive as we grow our worldwide business."
This survey was conducted online among 1,200 IT decision-makers at enterprise and SMB organizations in the U.S. (n=308), U.K. (n=310), Germany (n=281) and Japan (n=301) by Harris Interactive on behalf of Microsoft between April 9 and May 5, 2009. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
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