IT managers are facing a period of unprecedented pressure as their challenges increase but senior company executives try to hold down IT budgets, according to Peter Hind, manager, end user programs, IDC South Pacific.

"The problem for IT people is that business wants them to deal with the challenges but fights them tooth and nail over their budgets," said Hind, speaking at IDC's Directions 2004 conference. "IT managers feel under pressure and that they are the meat in the sandwich."

Pressure on IT managers is coming from several directions - industry, technology, workforce and socioeconomic forces, Hind said. Those pressures include:

  • Industry: mergers and acquisitions, regulation and deregulation, increased competition and cost pressures
  • Technology: pace of technological change, e-business, multimedia and new products
  • Workforce: increase in mobile and remote workers, restructuring, increase in workforce governance following corporate scandals
  • Socio-economic: globalization, the move to a 24-by-7 world, increased fiscal reporting requirements such as Sarbanes-Oxley, plus security and environmental issues

Hind quoted a U.S. survey conducted in 2003 which showed that almost 80 percent of IT managers were concerned about staff burnout. "Companies require agility from their IT systems, and to know how they can help with the company's nimbleness," Hind said. "They also want to know how IT managers can help keep IT budgets down."

To gain support for their activities, IT managers need to align their requests with their company's overall culture, he argued. For example, if a company is a fiscal traditionalist, IT managers should primarily talk about cost control. But if a company is advanced in its use of ITT, a "value cycle winner", then managers should talk about capitalizing on the value of IT.

"CIOs are under pressure. They may not show it but they do need help addressing the increasing needs of the business."