CXO

How Obama's initiatives may affect IT consultants

President Obama has promised a number of changes that could impact IT. Susan Harkins offers an overview of some of Obama's plans and initiatives that could affect your work.

President Barack Obama's campaign was the most tech savvy ever. He pulled out all the stops and used all the tools — a Web site, blogs, social networks, YouTube. As a result, his Internet presence was huge. Now that he's won the U.S. presidential race, can we expect this technology blitz to continue? Only time will tell, but there are a handful of his plans and initiatives that you should keep an eye on, especially because it may lead you to find your niche in IT consulting.

Obama's Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

Obama wants to create a CTO position for the federal government. This position will oversee IT for government agencies. In short, this leader is expected to drag the federal government into the 21st century. In the interim, Melissa Hathaway will head up a 60-day review of cybersecurity activities. Some in the industry are already calling her the new cyberczar, but technically, that position is still up for grabs. If you or one of your clients consults with the government, this new bureaucracy might impact you. Lots of luck with that. (Read Jason Hiner's post, Sanity check: 10 tech leaders who could become Obama's CTO.)

Recovery and investment — the infamous stimulus bill

The new CTO probably won't increase your purchasing power, but perhaps Obama's new stimulus package will. By securing loans and deposits, this stimulus bill is supposed to open credit sources, which means your clients can start spending (borrowed) money again. However, you can expect purchases to be geared toward critical processes; non-critical processes are going to sit on the back burner for a while, even with the stimulus bill.

Cybersecurity and Internet privacy

The Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency released its report, Securing Cyberspace for the 44th President, on December 8, 2008. This report recommends that Obama establish a post to deal with IT security and cybercrime. One thing is easy to assume: Internet privacy laws are getting ready to change, possibly creating a niche all its own. Remember accessibility? Standards alone could become a specialty.

Green-collar jobs

Obama's New Energy for America initiative promises five million green-collar jobs. Nothing in this plan jumps out at the technology market, but it has promise given the trend to green IT departments. It's another specialty niche that will impress some clients (while annoying others). However, it is the future, so get with the program now. Saving your clients money and helping them feel good about their efforts to reduce consumption is a good thing for everybody. (For tips on green IT, read my post, Two easy ways to green your client's office.)

Small business support

Obama supports an increase in the capital gains tax rate and higher taxes for high-income earners. Both policies have the potential to hurt small business and even stall new business. Any way you look at it, both of these policies are bad news for consultancies depending on small business for a large portion of their revenue. I'm certainly not recommending you walk away from these clients, but they might walk away from you if you're not supporting critical functions.

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About Susan Harkins

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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