I've seen a number of notes and articles about it being time for IT leaders to focus on cost cutting... during the economic downturn. In fact, there are whole seminars dedicated to it. That statement is true, but it should always be true (regardless of economic conditions). The same thing could be said about ROI within IT (or the business overall). What should be thought about in a new way is the continued separation of IT from the business. It's all business.
Now is the time for those in a business leadership position to understand that this is not a time to be passive and wait out this economic downturn. It is more than just a focus on survival; instead, it can be about advantage and value. Strategic money spent today has more effect when everyone is thinking tactically. I've mentioned before that I believe IT will undergo a shift during this down cycle, and that what we spend money on when we come out of it will be different.
Now is the time for organizations to think about how they operate. If they keep operating the same way and merely cut each line item of the budget without rethinking the overall approach, it is simply admitting they're a victim. This is a time to rethink, reprioritize, reengineer, and regenerate. Formally ask: Do all the elements in your application portfolio deliver value to the business? Are the assets utilized as efficiently as they should be? These kinds of activities do take some time and money, but the benefits are long lasting and may even cut costs in the near term.
Organizations that understand the value and visibility provided by IT have a greater ability to identify innovative ways to help reduce operational costs, improve their connections with customers, increase communication across and between organizations, and reduce time to market and enterprise response (latency) using collaboration. It is a time to brainstorm ways to reposition businesses for the future. It may be time to realize that there is no other choice. In many industries, businesses are vulnerable. It is a time for leadership.
Leaders are always willing to hear about innovative, creative ideas, but you still need to address the basics of ROI and business drivers. Managers, on the other hand, may be willing to focus only on operational excellence issues and cost cutting at times like these. Understand what the motivators are for the organization, look at these drivers and their implications from a different perspective and the impact of your ideas will be felt, now, more than ever.