Programmed for recovery

Smart CIOs realise that there's a lot more to surviving a downturn than cutting costs and waiting for the storm to pass. A bold IT strategy can boost productivity today as well as laying the foundations for growth when the upturn comes. Paul Fisher explains how.

In December 2008, the Financial Times reported that workers at some of Silicon Valley's biggest-name companies would be spending a lot longer with their families over the holiday. Cisco, HP, AMD and Dell were some of the IT giants closing down operations for an unusually long time, in response to the fall in orders from the world's IT departments. The recession was hitting the big IT vendors in their heartland.

It highlighted the fact that, all over the world, chief information officers are taking the first obvious step in surviving a recession - cutting down on their spending. But is that enough? After all, any department can reduce costs - usually by reducing headcount. Unique among their peers, CIOs may have at their disposal the means not just to help their business survive the recession but to remain competitive and to emerge stronger when trading conditions return to normality.

'There is an opportunity to be had here,' says Michael Nieves, a senior executive with Accenture. 'Those IT organisations that kept their heads used the last recession to find new opportunities, but those that just swung the axe found themselves in a weaker position.'

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