Expecting a recession, Gartner urges 'creative destruction'

By 2016, one in eight people on the planet will have a tablet computer

ORLANDO -- Gartner Inc. sees another recession coming that will lead to tightened IT budgets at the same time that technology is being forced to respond to social and collaborative computing trends.

At its annual Symposium/ITxpo here, Gartner analysts offered a generous dose of warnings and predictions, backed up with data, to make a case that IT managers are facing a period of "unprecedented uncertainty," as Gene Hall, Gartner's CEO, described it.

This uncertainty may begin with the economy.

"The second recession is about to hit," said Peter Sondergaard, Gartner's global head of research, who said IT budgets will feel a recession's impact next year.

Gartner analysts urged IT managers to "reimagine" their departments and prepare for a "post-modern world" driven by information, collaboration and mobility. Winning organizations, Sondergaard said, will put their customers at the center of design and engage them with simplicity.

This user engagement with businesses will be helped by a proliferation of non-PC devices.

Last year, less than 20 million tablet computers were sold, but Gartner estimates that by 2016, 900 million tablets will be in use -- one for every eighth person on the planet.

By 2015, Gartner estimates, mobile application development for smartphones and tablets will outnumber PCs by a ratio of four-to-one.

Users will be seeking higher levels of interaction with businesses, and it will be up to businesses to deliver "context-aware" experiences that know a customer's location, interests and buying preferences, while customers, for their part, tap into their own social networks for advice.

These trends will have a direct impact on IT spending, particularly on social networking used by business marketing organizations.

"Your CMO may have a bigger IT budget than you do," Sondergaard said.

IT managers were also urged to look at "creative destruction," such as reducing organizational walls so companies "can innovate together," said Tina Nunno, a Gartner analyst. "Destroy perfectionism and embrace calculated risk," she said.

One person who heard the presentation was Amin Nanji, director of technical services for B.C. Liquor Distribution in Vancouver, British Columbia. He said afterward that "the way we deliver IT has to change; we don't have to own the pieces, only the infrastructure behind it. That means my focus should be based on business," he said.

As far as creative destruction goes, Nanji said, "I love it -- there is a lot of old stuff that has probably outlived its time."

As to whether creative destruction is seen as a threat, Nanji said, "I think that's a choice. You either scare somebody or you excite them: Scare them in terms of they're about to lose something, or you excite them in terms of looking forward to what they are going to get."

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