2011 Spending Rise: Social, Private Cloud, Mobile?

IT executives continue to say that IT spending will increase in 2011, but what will they spend their budgets on? What growth initiatives will they look to fund? We've been listening for some hints.
Next year will see an increase in IT budgets. I've heard this both anecdotally from CIOs, and I've seen surveys that support it, including one conducted across Interop attendees. I've seen more people attend our events, either to learn from their peers or to kick the tires of technology, or both. While there's still caution, there is also hope. It might be difficult to predict exactly what that spending will entail just yet, but there are some interesting clues.

For one thing, the public cloud is either fading as a viable alternative, or consideration is slowing down dramatically. At this year's InformationWeek 500 conference, one attendee publicly asked if all the cloud nonsense was real or hype -- and he had plenty of support for his skepticism. At a recent Bank Summit in San Diego, the only financial institution I found doing something in the public cloud was merely using one to test some of its code during development. Meanwhile, almost every bank executive I talked to was implementing a private cloud solution.

The mobile enterprise is real. Some of the most innovative companies ranked in the InformationWeek 500 were doing remarkably well with mobile apps; among them, Wet Seal stood out (watch here for a summary interview with one of the executives behind this push). Most banks have at least an iPhone app, and that mobile channel is not harming its other channels at all--one bank I talked to has a $10m mobile development budget. Interestingly, all of them are writing native apps for each phone platform -- none of the companies I've talked to are considering building mobile web apps, even though we continue to hear about more powerful phones and lightning fast browsers. And each is struggling with how to build on all the platforms that matter (or struggling to figure out which ones do matter). One bank has written for the iPhone, BlackBerry and Palm, but won't even touch Windows Phone 7.

Finally, the excitement around the possibilities "social" technology is uncovering continues to unabated. Talking with some of the speakers for our Buy Side Summit taking place next week, I already know it will be a hot conversation topic, just as it was for the bankers, and for the CIOs at the InformationWeek 500 conference. For traders, using social mining to understand trends has already become an important weapon. For most every industry, it can be too -- it has given rise to an entire category called Sentiment Analytics, written about most recently by our own Doug Henschen. (For more useful pieces on this topic, read here and here.)

While some CIOs are embracing social tools for collaboration and knowledge sharing, and more, others are reluctantly going along for the ride, fully aware that this locomotive has left the station, even if nobody quite knows its destination (or cost, or benefit, or ... you get the point). Most are figuring out the right ways to harness the knowledge and create a feasible way to blend the collaboration into normal workflow, meanwhile protecting employees and companies from all of the potential liabilities that can arise when, well, people share just a little bit too much.

Many of these topics will be covered in our upcoming InformationWeek 500 Virtual Event, October 13. You'll also get to see some of the presentations on stage from the live version of the event. In the meantime, if you want a little taste of some of our keynoters, see the quick video interviews below -- one with Nicholas Carr, the other with Peter Hinssen. They were each fascinating. You can find more videos at our Global CIO site. I've also embedded our CIOs on the HotSeat session below. Finally, every year at the InformationWeek 500 conference, I do a little tech comedy (apologies to real comedians or comedy writers) to kick off our award show. You can watch it directly below.

Tech Comedy

CIOs on the Hot Seat

Peter Hinssen Interview

Nicholas Carr Interview

Fritz Nelson is the editorial director for InformationWeek and the Executive Producer of TechWebTV. Fritz writes about startups and established companies alike, but likes to exploit multiple forms of media into his writing.

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