Enterprises facing tight IT budgets should not be looking at cost-cutting but should focus on working their under-used enterprise applications harder.

So said analyst house Butler Group, in a new report entitled Evolving Enterprise Application. The report highlights the tendency in these tough economic times to focus on cutting costs. It argues that cost reduction and value generation are two sides of the same bottom line, so should be tackled together as part of a unified strategy, with savings in one area being used to fund smart investments in another.

"When capital is in short supply the pressure to optimise existing resources and assets intensifies, the report said. "In the IT space, enterprise applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) are prime targets."

Butler feels that the strategic importance of these applications,in terms of running businesses efficiently and effectively, means that IT should rather not consider the cost cutting route.

"Cost cutting is a natural reaction to a tough economic climate, so is freezing budgets and halting additional expenditure, but these actions can be counter-productive if they are carried out in a siloed fashion with little attention paid to long term and strategic implications," said Angela Eager, senior research analyst and the report's lead author.

"Challenging times are times of change, but change also brings opportunity and that means taking a fresh view of what is being done, why, and how, and being prepared to adapt both business operations and applications," she said.

"The background to this report is that organisations have invested heavy in enterprise applications," Eager explained to Techworld. "But the sheer size and complexity often means they are not very well utilised, as it is difficult to get a good overview of their advantages."

"Organisations need to look at what is not being used, and analyse that, bringing under-utilised functionality into use, thereby increasing the ROI on these expensive assets," she said.

Eager also believes that organisations need to start viewing enterprise applications as enablers of change, not static back-office transaction engines.