Banking

IT chiefs brace for recession

CIO Jury: Battening down the hatches?

The prospect of the UK heading into a full blown recession is forcing some IT chiefs to reassess their tech strategy and investment.

For the second time in a row, the silicon.com CIO Jury is hung, this time over the issue of preparedness for a UK recession.

CIO50 2008: Top 10

The UK's leading CIOs revealed…

1.Robin Dargue Royal Mail

2.David Lister Royal Bank of Scotland

3.Neil Cameron Unilever

4.Catherine Doran Network Rail

5.John Suffolk UK government

6.Gordon Lovell-Read Siemens UK

7.Paul Coby British Airways

8.Tania Howarth Birds Eye Iglo Group

9.Simon Post Carphone Warehouse

10.Ben Wishart Whitbread

Reports in the press are increasingly gloomy about the prospect of the UK economy managing to avoid a full blown recession, generally considered to be in effect when gross domestic product growth is negative for two consecutive quarters.

Signs that the country is sliding into a recession include mortgage approval numbers at the lowest level for 25 years and consumer spending at its weakest since the CBI started measuring it in 1983.

silicon.com asked the 12-strong panel of tech chiefs whether their organisations' IT strategies were prepared to go on to a full-blown recession footing. Six said they had, but the same number said they had decided not to, or couldn't alter their IT spending plans.

One CIO who has adapted his IT strategy to react to a recession was pessimistic about how the economy would affect spending.

Martin Frick, CIO of Avis Europe, said: "The downturn implications are being built into our appetite to invest next year."

Another was even more explicit. Mike Roberts, The London Clinic's IT director said: "We will be able to reduce expenditure and go into 'maintenance mode', by reducing contractors and expenditure on non-essential maintenance."

Others who were sticking to their guns were either mid-way through investment contracts or felt they had a flexible enough strategy to be able to react in time to economic hazards as they presented themselves.

Dr Ben Booth global chief technology officer for research company Ipsos said: "We will do this on a territory basis where necessary (for instance the UK) but many parts of the world, especially the emerging markets, the economies are still growing in double-digit percentages, so an overall recession footing would not be appropriate."

He was backed up by Kevin Fitzpatrick CIO of northern Europe for caterer and facilities company Sodexo, who said: "We constantly work to reduce our operating costs and flexibility in our investment/project spend. This we believe will be enough to manage any likely changes in the global economy."

Today's CIO Jury was:

  • Bill Ashworth, IT director, Countrywide Surveyors
  • Alastair Behenna, CIO, Harvey Nash
  • Dr Ben Booth, global chief technology officer, Ipsos
  • Kevin Fitzpatrick, CIO northern Europe, Sodexo
  • Chris Ford, IT Director, Nottingham City Council
  • Martin Frick, CIO, Avis Europe
  • Steve Gediking, head of IT & facilities, Independent Police Complaints Commission
  • Paul Haley, director of information technology, Aberdeen University
  • Neil Harvey, head of IT & accommodation, Food Standards Agency
  • Jane Kimberlin, IT director, Domino's Pizza Group
  • Jacques René, CIO, Ascend
  • Mike Roberts, IT director, The London Clinic

If you are a CIO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and want to be part of silicon.com's CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should be, then drop us a line at editorial@silicon.com.

Editor's Picks