Opportunities for innovation are being opened up as organisations consolidate as a result of the downturn, Oracle says.

In an interview with Computerworld UK, Alan Hartwell, Oracle's vice president of technology solutions and channels in the UK, said that most organisations are looking at where their cost centres are during the downturn. And for the first time, they are looking at cutting costs in the data centre.

"Previously, the data centre has been a difficult place to go because management did not understand what's going on in the data centre, and before the downturn, people did not see the opportunity to cut the cost of data centres. But increasingly, CIOs and CFOs are understanding much more what is the real cost of a data centre," Hartwell said.

As well as cost, Hartwell said that being innovative and therefore competitive, is a driver for consolidation.

"Most studies say that the between 70 and 90 percent of the cost of the data centre is 'keeping the lights on'. What if [through consolidation] all of a sudden you could spend the money saved [the 70 to 90 percent] on innovation? This is the competitive edge around your IT."

In the future, Hartwell believes that businesses will pursue even larger-scale consolidation projects, with the aim to standardise. However, he disagrees with the theory that the IT function within businesses will become smaller overtime, as IT becomes increasingly outsourced, or moved to the cloud.

"I don't believe the IT function will shrink because it's an engine for innovation. We currently have very smart people working in data centres, just keeping the engine running," said Hartwell.

"I see the IT department being freed up to become a proactive department, proposing new things for the organisation to do. I think that it will become a creative side of the company, not just a cost centre."

Hartwell's theory echoes that of Derek Gannon, COO of the Guardian Media Group, who outlined his belief that the IT function needs to become more creative at the CIO Summit in London yesterday.