Fiscal ties constrain IT 's adventurous spirit

IT executives today are moving away from emerging technologies, acutely aware there is little fiscal room for experimentation.

Caution and financial restraint keep executives focused on transformation-based technologies such as business intelligence and data warehousing which can align technology with immediate business priorities.

Previously IT execs felt compelled to incorporate the latest technologies, according to the director of research and product testing firm UsabilityOne, Toby Biddle.

"But they do this without really assessing the benefits; organizations rarely monitor the impact of changes or upgrades, and it means that there is no opportunity to learn from mistakes, or from successes," Biddle said.

"Another common mistake is thinking that the development process is over once a product has been released or a Web site is launched.

"Monitoring its progress and knowing why it is successful is of great help when considering improvements, redesigning or even introducing new products."

Harris Scarfe IT manager Jeff Hobart admits when it comes to the enterprise he stays away from the latest and greatest, but has a keen eye for emerging technologies when it comes to personal use or the consumer market.

"When dealing with an enterprise there's a risk factor involved that makes you more wary. I much prefer to go for solutions which are tried and tested," Hobart said.

One "new" technology that generated plenty of interest with IT managers who spoke to Computerworld last week was wireless.

All agreed it would dominate their technology plans over the next five years.

Hobart agreed. "I think wireless has got the biggest benefits to offer in the future. We're a retailer, so we can see the benefits of wireless in terms of supply chain," he said.

IMB IT manager Johan Reyneke said he wasn't interested in technology for technology's sake.

"Making Internet usage safe would be on the top of my wish list for new technologies to come," Reyneke said, adding that tight budgets hinder experimentation.

"I think the squeeze on cost reduction and efficiency has meant less room for technical innovation, and we now have to be less adventurous with our IT projects," Reyneke said.

One IT manager, who requested anonymity, said creativity still exists in the enterprise.

"I don't think there's less room for experimentation and innovation, you have to experiment with new technologies in order to understand them," the IT manager said.

"Although I try not to pay too much attention to the latest buzzwords or hype."

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