Fight the urge to cut net spending

Temptation Island is a great premise, but it's lousy TV because it pits internal wrangling against external immobility. Watch Tracy think about Brad. See Carew cry over Alex. It's like putting together this year's IT budget.

Temptation Island is a new reality television show in which good-looking men and women are tempted to cheat on their beloveds.

It’s a great premise, but it’s lousy TV because it pits internal wrangling against external immobility. Watch Tracy think about Brad. See Carew cry over Alex.

It’s like putting together this year’s IT budget.

From the outside it looks dull: no new money, no new projects. But inside are turmoil and temptations to postpone and cut IT initiatives.

We’re back to having to justify every project and every expense. In some companies, the situation is so bad, you just might have to cut back on using the copy machine.

And with the word internet leaving a bad taste in investors’ mouths, IT is shelving internet projects.

That’s a shame. The move to the net has proved profound for consumers and businesses, and it rivals the move from mainframe computing to client/server architectures a decade ago.

The internet offers wider access to technology and can distribute that technology beyond company walls. This changes business models because you can now automate many more things. That’s one of the pillars of e-business.

So this is the wrong time to pull this structure down. Instead of cutting e-business budgets, smart business leaders are pushing ahead.

Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of General Electric, was recently quoted as saying, "In this company, we are driving the hell out of IT. We think it’s the lifeblood of the company and digitisation is the most important thing we have undertaken." Welch adds that this is the time to widen the IT gap between you and competitors.

In fact, for companies that were slow to fall in love with e-business, now is a wonderful time to move quickly. Competitors may be rethinking their e-business commitments, and there’s more sophisticated software available. In addition, a slowdown in internet consulting means your call to a consultant will be returned promptly, and you might even wring better terms.

So fight the budget-cutting attempts. Demonstrate how spending on IT can yield new markets and opportunities.

And don’t skimp on training. Creating e-business opportunities by connecting back-end systems to front-end internet operations requires new skills. Don’t let your people down by shutting the door on continuing education.

Finally, resist the temptation to delay e-business implementations. The short-term benefit of cutting costs will be insignificant compared with what could happen if you fall behind your competitors.

Fox is Computerworld US’ West Coast bureau chief. Send email to Pimm Fox.

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