IT Priorities: 2012 budgets solid; Mobility, price haggling rule

Vendor margins are going to get squeezed in any category with more than two players. Customers want a deal and they want quality.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

In this inaugural version of ZDNet's U.S. IT Priorities report there are many common threads that add up to an enterprise tipping point. Technology budgets are flat to up a bit, but respondents would love to ditch their legacy gear and start fresh.

The challenge for technology executives is clear: How do your lower costs to carve our the dollars needed to be a corporate hero? And to be that corporate hero technology execs have to be aligned with business priorities. If not, it's safe to say that business units will ultimately control the technology budget. In fact, that movement is already happening.

In the report, you'll find a series of data nuggets on IT buying priorities as well as a few items that may surprise you. Here are a few nuggets that stuck out for me and my take on what they mean.

March 21: Live Webcast: 2012 IT Priorities US | Download report

Mobility and Web apps are a high priority for many IT buyers. My take: Mobility is the most obvious way for enterprise technology to remain relevant. Want to be a superstar? Get me all the corporate data I need in a nice wrapper on my iPad in the field. As for Web apps, tech execs want to shed existing on-premise software for lighter weight cloud offerings.

Size matters much less today than in recent years. My take: Big companies have the most legacy technology to shed. As a result, smaller companies can be more transformational with cloud efforts. It's no wonder that midsized companies had the most budget winners in our survey. Midsized companies are in a sweet spot. They're large enough to do damage to the big boys yet don't have the bloat.

Tech spending is more fun in China and India. My take: In the U.S. a tech budget that's flat to up a smidge is the norm. That reality is flipped in China and India where a tech spending boom is underway. This spending boom will matter to U.S. technology executives given that many companies are truly global.

Data mining and business intelligence on radar. My take: Respondents to our survey remained focused on cutting costs, but data mining is becoming a larger priority. Seventy percent of respondents said that analytics was a priority. Tech execs better say that because the business leadership is analytics happy.

Security is a big worry. My take: Given all the upheaval tech execs have to navigate with consumerization and multiple devices it only makes sense that securing corporate data is scary.

IT buyers are all about price. My take: Vendor margins are going to get squeezed in any category with more than two players. Customers want a deal and they want quality. This reality is totally warranted. With a flat budget money to transform has to come from somewhere. That somewhere is often a vendor's backside.

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