When CIOs were asked by IDC to name their top three IT priorities for this year, nearly 40 percent of them picked virtualization and server consolidation, more than any other area of IT. After virtualization, investment in cloud services came in second, followed by collaboration tools, business analytics, and the consolidation of application portfolios.
While IDC ranks CIO priorities, another research firm, Gartner, scaled back its IT spending increase forecast for 2012 to 3.7% growth, down from an earlier forecast of 4.6%.
Virtualization and server consolidation, along with cloud computing, are all part of a wider enterprise goal of reducing IT complexity, said David McNally, IT executive advisor at IDC, in a Webcast Tuesday. And savings from server consolidation will be reinvested in four main "pillars" of IT, he said: cloud; mobile, data analytics, and social business.
"The cost savings that have been realized from virtualization and cloud services have been significant and they are being consumed by next-generation technologies and the four pillars," McNally said. Beginning in 2012, IDC sees IT moving from a focus on productivity and cost savings to a focus on delivering innovation in what it calls the "intelligent economy." According to the survey, 67% of CIOs see themselves as no longer the chief information officer but the "chief innovation officer."
"We think that CIOs are well prepared for this moment. They have experience leading in this transformation and they are ready to step up," said Meredith Whalen, the U.S.-based senior vice president of Insights and Vertical Markets Research at IDC.
The move to reduce complexity through such practices as virtualization is one of 10 predictions IDC is making for 2012, based on survey results. Some of the others: continued efforts to align IT and business goals; hiring IT staff that bring business skills as well as technical skills to the job; expanded use of social media beyond just by marketing into all areas of the enterprise; and further development of mobile device management in an era when employees seek to use their own personal smartphones and tablets on the corporate network.
Enterprises will also make more of an investment in "big data" analytics in 2012, IDC predicts, to analyze the petabytes of data their businesses generate in order to make business decisions.
"The final bricks in the foundation for the intelligent enterprise will be laid in 2012 in a number of key industries," IDC states, mentioning health care, utilities, and retail as industries making the most of analytics technology. Analytics jumped to number four on the list of CIO IT priorities for 2012, from ninth place in the previous survey.
IDC notes that the amount of data generated by enterprises is expected to grow by 48% this year and that 90% of it will be unstructured data. In the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Government: As federal agencies close data centers, they must drive up utilization of their remaining systems. That requires a well-conceived virtualization strategy. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)