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Shape-Changing, Paradigmatic Shifts on the IT Horizon?

Enterprises are increasingly leveraging innovations external to their traditional comfort zones, which is leading them to reduce their internal infrastructure investments, cut back on internal operations and slash their ownership of assets.

In fact, according to a survey by Forrester Research conducted for IronKey, lowering IT operations costs and increasing resources to drive business innovations are the top two enterprise IT initiatives for 2012. Forrester backs that up by claiming 72 percent of IT decision-makers are planning to lower their IT operations budgets in 2012, and 69 percent say they will increase IT capacity or resources to support business innovations.

Those ambitious goals seem like near-incredulous contradictions, given the never-ending drumbeat of IT execs who claim that zero budgets, callous CEOs and complexity complaints have become a way of life for them.

"Aha!," Forrester seems to say. "So glad you said that, because those near-incredulous contradictions point to a fundamental shift that we have identified: the transformation of information technology into business technology."

How will this sea change, this paradigmatic transformation work? Easy. IT will just modernize technology delivery using mobility, "as-a-service" capabilities and bring-your-own-device programs.

Forrester says that the custom study it performed for IronKey -- which was supplemented by other recent survey data -- reveals that enterprises are already making this shape-changing shift. To wit, "an astounding 94%" of the survey enterprises plan on adopting at least a moderate level of enterprise mobility in the next two years, in the form of either employee-provisioned devices or company-issued smart phones and tablets.

That is the kind of bodacious claim you would expect from a research company being paid by a vendor to survey the ever-changing IT landscape, but it will no doubt come true in some sizeable proportion of wealthy, innovative companies that are probably also extremely green. But 94 percent? At a time when many IT departments are still viewed as cost centers? Free tablets seem a little ahead of the curve to me.

In its additional research, Forrester found several factors that will have significant impacts on IT services spending in 2012, including the need to innovate and grow the business, the increasing proliferation of end-user devices, and the increased use of as-a-service offerings.

The as-a-service phenomenon is a legitimate contender for significant growth, and in support of that notion, Forrester says "Of the 361 organizations from the Forrsights Services survey that are using SaaS, 60% told us that their firm has reduced spending on IT services, 12% of those organizations have realized savings of more than 10%, while a smaller percentage -- 3%--reported significant savings of more than 20%." That is sweet music for both under-budgeted companies looking to cut their up-front and premises-based costs, and the burgeoning population of as-a-service providers following in the golden footsteps of Salesforce.com.

Security, of course, remains the 900-pound bummer in the room, and Forrester -- along with everybody else in the IT world -- can tick off a list of negative stats that all basically boil down to the great and looming fear that precious data will just go poof in the night.

In research speak, that translates into "IT decision-makers still view the security capabilities of cloud and mobile technologies as immature and believe that adopting such technologies will present a challenge -- at least in the near term -- to the enterprise’s security and compliance posture."

In other words, you still have to take the bad with the good.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 02/27/2012 at 12:48 PM


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