Gearing up for the Recovery

Irv Rothman
As economists, media pundits and others jump onboard the "recession is over" bandwagon, significant and fundamental questions abound. Chief among them: How - and when - will battered economies in the United States and around the world shift into recovery mode and resume growing?

Less obvious questions are potentially even more far-reaching: What permanent changes in the business landscape will we experience as a result of the most severe global recession in generations? And how does the savvy business leader take advantage of them?
For CTOs and CIOs, the implications are profound.
With economic renewal come increased IT demands. Correspondingly, new generations of technology arrive at a dizzying pace. As pressure builds on in-house IT teams to deliver ever-greater functionality and efficiencies from IT platforms, decisions about migrating to next-generation technologies - which? when? how? - become critical.
For years, conventional wisdom held that IT "enabled the business." No more. Today's hard truth is that IT drives business and in some ways even has become the business. IT systems and services drive the end-to-end business environment to access, generate, share and synchronize data and applications across the full business value chain. In today's business world, data is everywhere. Reliance on data-rich application software, information and communications is critical to business performance.
New Thinking, New Approach Required

Intuitively, most of us sense that a period of economic volatility demands new thinking and a fresh approach to markets.
We understand that an economic downturn accelerates the introduction of new technologies, best practices and business models as organizations struggle to balance the risks and opportunities inherent with constrained resources and reduced business demand.
In fact, research shows that economic downturns can more than double the likelihood that a business significantly changes its industry ranking; those that make it into the top quartile during a downturn typically sustain their market premium for an average of three years. To the downside, during the last recession, 40 percent of companies that were in the top quartile lost their leadership position after the recession.
It's reasonable to expect that a comparable realignment will occur as the current recession recedes. One might even argue it's already well under way; consider the dramatic changes we've witnessed over the past year in the financial services, automotive and construction industries. Less obvious but equally significant are changes in energy (shift to renewable sources), health care (potential new legislative and regulatory requirements, including a shift to universal electronic records) and utilities (regional requirements for new smart grid requirements).

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