Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Takeaways

I attended Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2011 in Orlando last week for the world’s biggest industry conference focused on IT leaders with over 7,500 senior IT executives (including 2,000 CIOs). Here are some of my takeaways from the Gartner sessions at the event:

(1) CEOs continue to worry about business uncertainty. The four major risk areas of (1) government direction, (2) commodity prices, (3) financial stability, and (4) popular confidence are causing continued business uncertainty. Although many business leaders are publicly stating a bullish ‘Plan A’, they are privately considering a scaled back ‘Plan B’ if some of the risks materialize.

(2) IT budgets will be flat for 2012. Similar to the last 2 years, Gartner is predicting flat (<2% growth) in IT budgets for 2012. However, flat IT budgets do not mean that IT is perceived as not delivering strategic business value. In a recent survey, 52% of CEOs see IT providing innovation or growth opportunities for the business vs. the typical cost reduction, efficiency and effectiveness benefits. Other areas of the business are seeing budget cuts, so flat or slightly growing IT budgets should be viewed positively.

(3) IT needs to focus on creating measurable financial benefits for the enterprise. Gartner states that by 2016 that 50% of CIO new project spending should be directed towards measurably improving enterprise financial conditions. This reinforces the importance of PMO leaders to help drive this shift by providing CIOs with the right project intake process to pick investments that will align with this strategic imperative.

(3) SaaS PPM tools provide more “Bang for your Buck”.  In the Project and Portfolio Management Applications MarketScope presentation, Gartner highlighted that SaaS PPM tools are driving down cost of ownership and presenting more risk-averse options for customers. One of the criteria for MarketScope evaluation was the overall PPM risks of tools, including price, complexity, start-up, and adoption. It was great to see Daptiv was given the highest MarketScope rating this year of ‘Strong Positive’.

(4) Social business software is primarily focused on marketing and customer service functions.  Although there is a lot of hype about the new ‘social enterprise’, Gartner’s recent Social Media Survey found that ‘strengthening customer relationships’, ‘enhancing brand awareness’ and ‘creating interactive customer relationships’ were the main drivers for social software in the enterprise. Although this will likely change to include project management in the future, increasing ‘employee productivity’ and ‘decrease business costs’ were not yet a hot focus area for social business software.

(5) Discussion of “Project” and “Project Portfolio” gives way to “Program”, “Product”, “Application” and “Service”.Given the broadened use of PPM tools for managing businesses beyond projects, more organizations are now taking a holistic view of their business by using PPM tools to manage end-to-end service portfolios, product delivery, application lifecycle management, and change management programs.

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