Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A new golden age for the IT industry is coming up



There is much doom and gloom about the economy just about everywhere you turn today. I am sure it will continue for a couple of years and that we will see new waves in the financial crisis that will seriously disturb and hurt the world economy. 

But as always, there will be - and already is possible to see some - light at the end of the tunnel. We know that every downturn will be followed by an upturn, that there is an end of every tunnel. The question is just how long the tunnel is and whichindustries and companies will be able to see the light, and which won't.

The IT industry will for sure see the light. The IT industry will even see it before most other industries are still in the dark, trying to get out of the tunnel. Why is that so? 

I am not just saying that because I am an IT professional myself. 

One quite obvious reason is that IT is business critical in a way it was not even just ten years ago, and that IT is a key means to cut costs and improve sales. A lot of the IT investments that have already been planned will need to be carried out. Still, some IT investments will be put on hold or dropped completely. Some companies will have to cut back on a lot of IT investments because they otherwise would bleed to death (companies that will probably die anyway).

However, I believe that the IT industry will not just come out of this recession less damaged than other industries - I believe it will enter a golden age in the near future. The main reason is that the root causes behind the financial crisis will need to be fixed. As soon as the root causes have been identified and analyzed, new rules and regulations that state how business need to operate and manage their business will need to designed. Then these will need to be implemented - worldwide. All businesses operating in the global market will be forced to comply with these rules and regulations.

This means that there will be A LOT of change in IT systems - especially regarding how transactions are initiated, carried out and followed up upon. Companies and other organizations cannot choose whether or not they should change their policies, processes and IT systems - they will be forced to do so by the lawmakers (our governments). If they do not comply, they will be put out of business or face serious fees. The area of compliance might even give raise to an industry of its own. 

Today we do not know what to comply to, and how the operations and management of a company will need to be changed. We just know that change will come. Inevitably. What companies can and should do is to prepare themselves for change. One part in this is increasing the agility of their organization, processes and IT systems. Another part is to prepare people for change. And those who can afford should do their best to keep, develop and recruit people skilled in management and IT for the times ahead when they will need them dearly.

At the same time, an even tougher competition about markets will force companies to invest serious amounts in order to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, penetrate new markets, and invent new products and services at an increasingly rapid speed and quality. The companies that are best at this and are well prepared for change will be first to see the light in the end of the tunnel.