Tech Forecast 2017: IT sharpens its focus

With spending and hiring flat, CIOs seek efficiency in automation and outsourcing. Should IT workers be worried?

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Tech executives are optimistic as they head into 2017. One of the biggest reasons for the hopeful outlook is the fact that business and IT are finally on the same page, with planned technology projects and overall strategic business goals closely aligned for the upcoming year.

Bolstering productivity and enhancing customer connections and services are two of next year's top priorities for both business and IT, according to the results of the Computerworld Tech Forecast 2017 survey. To hit those targets, enterprises will continue on the path to digital transformation, deepening their commitment to big data and analytics, as well as cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS).

Overall, 78% of the 196 IT leaders who responded to the survey ranked their organizations as either keeping pace with or well into the digital transformation process. Just 6% reported they're ahead of the curve, while 11% said the process is not going well.

That's in keeping with findings by research firm IDC, which predicts that, by the end of 2017, two-thirds of the CEOs of Global 2000 companies will have digital transformation at the center of their corporate strategies.

Computerworld - Tech Forecast 2017 - Fact and Figures for the Year Ahead [slide-15] Computerworld

As customers demand more control, "companies must deliver deeper, more personalized experiences through their products and services," says Robert Parker, an analyst at IDC. "Delivering this capability will define the winners in the digital economy," he says. "Of course, delivering on these promises requires a new operating model, one that's enabled by new technologies -- social, mobile, analytics and the cloud."

While that all falls squarely into IT's domain, it doesn't necessarily translate to greater IT spending -- and may not bode well for rank-and-file tech employees. According to survey results, most companies plan to keep both costs and head count in check throughout their digital journeys by increasing automation to enable self-service IT. Tech staffing will generally remain flat or decrease at seven out of 10 organizations.

So which emotion will dominate in 2017 -- optimism or caution? Read on for more detailed survey data and insight from five top-ranked IT leaders on what they're tackling in the new year, and beyond.

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