After yet another tough year for the IT departments with budgets slashed, 2013 might prove to be a more enjoyable year for tech workers as spending edges up and organisations start to invest in new projects again.
When asked "Do you think 2013 will be a better year for the IT department than 2012?" TechRepublic's CIO Jury of tech leaders responded with a 10-to-two yes vote.
Mike Wright, head of technology at Man Group, said 2013 was likely to be better than 2012 because organisations have an increasing need "to do more than just cut costs", while Mike Roberts, IT director at The London Clinic, said "The business recognises the need to reinvest".
Mark Foulsham, CIO at esure, took an similarly optimistic view: "I think that despite the ongoing economic climate, IT Teams in every industry should now at least be familiar with the challenges - whether it's stronger budget controls or innovative ways of competing."
Afonso Caetano, CIO at J Macêdo, said 2013 is likely to be a better year for IT organisations as companies start to invest in productivity-enhancing tech and processes automation, and highlighted two tech trends that will be key.
"There is the irreversible trend of migration of commoditised applications to cloud-based models, as well as big data coming up as an attractive option for monetisation of unstructured data from many companies. So 2013 comes as a year full of challenges and opportunities."
Michael Woodford, executive director of IT technical services USANA Health Sciences, said that with business growth slowly returning there appears to be a willingness to invest in both IT infrastructure and staffing. "Through the last few lean years IT seems to have learned to be a more involved, and valued, business partner which translates into additional funding, more forward-thinking projects, and additional staff to share the load."
Not every tech chief is convinced that 2013 will be all good news. Ian Takats, head of IT at Visit Britain, cautioned: "With the economic situation remaining uncertain, jobs and IT expenditure will remain under pressure, while Tim Stiles, CIO at Bremerton Housing Authority, added: "Budgets continue to be very tight this year for public sector businesses. Focus remains on delivering more for less."
Other members of the CIO Jury group also shared their views. Rohit Kilam, CTO at Masan Group in Vietnam, said: "Consumerisation and mobility will keep front end busy, while cloud and security will keep the back end tied up."
Dan Fiehn, group head of IT at Markerstudy Group, also had a positive view of 2013: "I am seeing far more investment into IT software and infrastructure projects to facilitate growth. The business have optimised their processes and staffing levels as far as possible, and only through IT investment can the next level of efficiencies be realised. Further, new distribution channels are being exploited through ever increasing connected mobile devices which is accelerating the need for big data solutions - all of which in my opinion makes for an interesting and challenging year ahead in IT."
However - it's also worth noting that the CIO Jury thought 2012 would be a better year than 2011 (and that 2011 would be better than 2010).
This week's CIO Jury was
- Tim Stiles, CIO at Bremerton Housing Authority
- Ian Takats, head of IT Visit Britain
- Mike Wright, head of technology, Man Group
- Bob Hickcox, director of information technology, Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys
- Steve Williams, director of information systems and services, Newcastle University
- Brian Wells, associate CIO, Penn Medicine
- Neil Harvey, IT director, Sindlesham Court
- Jerry Justice, IT director, SS&G Financial Services
- Mark Foulsham, CIO, esure
- Afonso Caetano, CIO, J Macêdo
- Mike Roberts, IT director The London Clinic
- Michael Woodford, executive director of IT technical services USANA Health Sciences
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Steve Ranger is the UK editor-in-chief of ZDNet and TechRepublic. An award-winning journalist, Steve writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture, and regularly appears on TV and radio discussing tech issues. Previously he was the editor of silicon.com.