Self funded transformations will enable IT teams to do more with less
When the current pandemic caused concern, people naturally looked to the Spanish flu to learn from the past. By and large what happened in 1918 has panned out with COVID but with substantially less loss of life. Lessons learned during that first pandemic led to the development of flu vaccines in the 1930’s. Consequently the loss of life in this pandemic will be far less than what occurred between 1918 and 1920.
As we now face into a next recession what can we learn from organisations that thrived in prior post recessionary periods? Harvard Business School has researched the strategies and results for 4,700 public companies (PLC) over three recessions, 1980, 1990, and 2001. This research indicated that in the 3 years after a recession 17% of these PLC’s fared worse and only 9% thrived as measured by top and bottom line growth .
Unsurprisingly it transpires that organisations who can cut carefully and invest wisely are in the 9% who thrived. A follow-on piece of research published in 2010 after the Great Recession looked at how this ‘cut carefully and invest wisely strategy’ played out for investments in Digital Transformation as one of four areas, the others being R&D, marketing and capital assets.
CIO’s are likely to be asked to do more with less in the coming months. And guess what … this works. Self funded transformation projects with quick pay offs aimed at improving efficiency are one of the best ways to thrive post recession based on the data from Harvard’s research.
In pursuit of efficiency the thrivers invested in automation projects to reduce cost and improve quality. Another area where investment yielded returns was data driven decisioning as high performing organisations were better able to understand their business to identify opportunities for efficiency improvement.
For many organisations Information Technology (IT) ‘Keep the Lights on’ budgets can be as much as 80% of total IT expenditure. Repurposing this budget for innovation will be a critical success factor. If IT departments can maintain the stability of existing systems at lower cost they will free up resources to innovate in areas that can generate growth for the business after the downturn.
In this recession and with Europe set to invest 1.87 trillion to ‘spend its way’ out of the recession, it seems Governments are actively engaged in supporting businesses to invest through tax incentives and employee retention schemes.
By combining self funded transformation, Government incentives and efficiency improvement, IT teams can retain staff and CIO’s can be the difference between surviving and thriving if the lessons from past recessions are to be acted upon.