There's a new set of IT priorities on the block

ZDNet UK's conference on Tuesday demonstrated a new enthusiasm among IT professionals in the UK - and a new set of IT priorities
Written by Leader , Contributor
In the wake of the recent tech downturn, we hear a familiar refrain echoed throughout the industry: that the people who are here now are the people who care about technology; that the companies who are here now are those with real business plans, producing real value; and that the industry is healthier for it.

Yesterday, many of those who have survived the economic downturn of the past few years - both from the tech industry and the customers of the tech industry - came together in London's Park Lane Hotel to discuss their current IT priorities.

It was nice to see that there was one IT priority that didn't make our final list - 'cutting costs'. Although finding ways to save money was a theme that ran through many of the debates, it was clear that the discussion has now moved on from basic damage control and budget management to more creative and interesting ways of maximising the benefits of investing in IT technology and skills.

Money still matters. Some people are capitalising on the stagnation within the enterprise software market and the rise of exciting open-source alternatives, by negotiating tougher licensing deals. Some are simply buying open-source software. Ole-Bjorn Tuftedal, the chief technical officer for the City of Bergen, Norway, carried out a major Linux implementation in June this year. Speaking at the conference, he said lower cost and improved security benefits mean that it now makes sense to seriously evaluate desktop Linux. A straw poll of the audience indicated that some 10 percent already ran some desktop Linux in their businesses. Even if you're happy - as many are - with Microsoft software, the emergence of a viable desktop alternative provides a useful extra bargaining tool.

The fact that Red Hat won Enterprise Product of the Year in the CNET Networks UK Awards yesterday simply reinforced the evidence from our readers that desktop Linux is now a viable option for real businesses. Some companies are looking at the promises of VoIP to help save money.

Others are turning to analytics. In fact it was enlightening to discover just how much work companies Betfair.com and lastminute.com put into this practice - to the point of analysing the revenue associated with each link on the page and feeding that information back to the design process. Brent Hoberman, founder and chief executive of lastminute.com, could not over emphasise the importance of gathering and acting on this kind of priceless information.

And at the London Stock Exchange, innovation in business models has turned the IT department from a cost centre to a profit centre, helping chief information officer David Lester win CNET's CIO of the Year Award.

Security is a word never far from the thoughts of IT managers, and here too, innovation is essential. But here again, innovation in processes can be as important as innovation in technology. Our keynote speaker, Martin Smith of The Security Company, made a pertinent point when he said that a company's security department should include every person in the company.

Yesterday's event was the first time we've been able to showcase our readers' priorities -- and then meet those readers in person to discuss them. We learned a huge amount, but we all know how fast this industry moves, so help us keep on top of it by letting us know what your IT priorities are for the rest of this year. You can find out more about them here

If you would like to tell us more about your priorities, send a note to ZDNet UK editor Matt Loney at matt.loney@zdnet.co.uk

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