Bleak prospects for network techies as IT spend is rejigged

LAN/WAN specialists and systems integrators are among those IT professionals whose livelihoods are most at risk as the economy contracts, according to the National Computing Centre's latest ‘Benchmark of IT Strategy’ survey

Its findings indicate that enterprises have stalled spend on network infrastructure and back-office systems, and are concentrating investment on activities that improve customer experience.

The NCC report is based on the responses of 204 organisations, collated during July and August 2008. Respondents acknowledged that recessionary concerns were having an effect on plans: of those who had reviewed budget targets for the current financial year, 58 per cent reported spending cuts.

In terms of prioritising remaining investment, market/customer/client-facing applications are now the top-cited IT development priority (up from second place in 2006), with 55 per cent of respondents expecting to grow resources in this area.

Regulatory compliances were rated as the most important external driver for IT renewal, with the finance sector, health, central/local government sectors most likely to emphasis it; activity in the area of IT and data governance is expected to triple by 2010.

LANs, WANs, server operating environments, and systems integration, have dropped out of the Top 10 activities for the next two years, replaced by developments in workflow/collaborative applications, and data governance, CRM, and IS intelligence.

“Most organisations have reached the point where their physical IT infrastructure is stable,” says NCC publications manager Ian Jones. “However, the downturn should mean that organisations that have to upgrade networks are in a stronger position to cut better deals with vendors.”

The reduced demand for LAN/WAN and telecommunications skills means that IT professionals who work in these disciplines will be less in demand, Jones adds, and face a tough year ahead. However, he believes that there will be an increase in opportunities of enterprise architectures and systems engineers, as organisations seek to derive more value from their network infrastructures by aligning them toward service-oriented models.

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