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IT in 2009: Lessons learned in IT efficiency, productivity

Lessons learned in IT In 2009 can be carried over to 2010 to increase IT efficiency and productivity -- and get a solid start on security, virtualization and more.

With 2009 wrapped up, IT executives are hoping for a better 2010. For those organizations that managed to be successful in IT In 2009 despite the many resource and budget challenges, the lessons they learned can carry over to 2010 -- translating to increased IT efficiency and productivity.

For example, Niel Nickolaisen, like many other CIOs this year, took on a lot -- adjusting to changing business needs and fewer available resources. And while every year brings changes, 2009 was different in that IT cost management took center stage and the original plan for IT changed dramatically because of it. Projects were stalled or canceled and IT contracts were renegotiated wherever possible -- all while working toward coming out of the downturn with improved IT capabilities and a well-developed staff.

At the end of this long journey, some of this CIO's lessons learned include:

  • There is no substitute for having strong relationships with my business peers.
  • It feels good to achieve personal goals.
  • Telco companies are completely incapable of sending an accurate invoice.

To learn more about some these takeaways from 2009, read "IT in 2009: The good, the bad and the ugly."

And for more specific breakdowns of IT lessons learned and tips for IT efficiency from 2009, here are some key points by topic:

  IT security and risk
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With smaller budgets and leaner staffs, security and risk management in 2009 were challenging for many. Some CIOs and chief information security officers offered insights into how they managed to tackle security and risk with fewer resources. To accomplish what needed to be done, some discovered they had to take big risks in order to minimize risks.

For example, taking a risk on a small startup vendor proved to be a good option for one CIO looking for an affordable single sign-on solution. And even though going with such a young startup was a risky move, it proved to be a beneficial partnership in the end.

Other tips to keep in mind for 2010 include:

  • Automating processes saves money but exacts a price.
  • Hiring an outside contractor to oversee an IT services provider sharpens security services.
  • Reinforcing user training with daily updates provides inexpensive, ongoing security awareness.

To learn more about these key points and for additional information on security and risk management, read "Six lessons in IT security and risk from the Great Recession."

  Business process management
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Business process management (BPM) tools may have re-emerged last year to streamline processes and increase IT efficiency, but many executives are looking beyond some of the quick fixes BPM can offer. The BPM tools that were implemented in IT in 2009 to cut costs and lead the way for business process automation and process consolidation will continue to thrive in the future -- for constant and continual process improvement and optimization.

One way for a BPM tool to remain relevant in your organization, according to one chief technology officer we spoke to, is to use it in place of an expensive ERP system and tie together disparate legacy systems. In another instance, a BPM tool was used to standardize branch office workflows to improve data consistency.

For more BPM tool tips and novel use cases, read "Lessons in efficiency: Business process management tools for 2010."

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Server virtualization set the stage for cost savings and IT efficiencies in the data center. But 2010 calls for increased virtualization -- including virtual desktops.

IT leaders are now looking at their storage systems, applications and desktops to find more opportunities for virtualization. And they are investing in virtual machine management tools and establishing self-service programs for virtual provisioning to find additional IT efficiencies.

IT departments are getting virtual makeovers to save time and money. For example, introducing virtual printers, virtual desktops and virtual applications helped one IT director do more with fewer available servers -- particularly useful because the organization had run out of room in its data center and had no money to expand. But while virtual desktops do offer many benefits, don't overlook the potential costs that can be associated with licensing, network bandwidth and storage.

To learn more about virtual desktops -- including the benefits and potential costs -- read "For 2010, virtual desktops can squeeze more life out of old systems."

Let us know what you think about the briefing; email editor@searchcio-midmarket.com.

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