Keeping IT Innovation Up in a Down Economy

The economy right now is anything but predictable. And while we’re all keeping a close eye on our investments - both at home and at work - it hard not to wonder: what happens to IT innovation in such a volatile economic climate?

Can CIOs keep a tight leash on the budget and still stay ahead of the curve? That’s a tall order, to be sure. Economic woes typically stifle creativity because innovation is risky – and risk can prove costly.

But can’t standing still prove costly, too?

The key is to strike a productive balance.  CIOs must find a way to reconcile a rocky economy with the need to take advantage of new opportunities that could potentially benefit the business.

For guidance, check out “Think you’re creative? Five ways CIOs can innovate for the business,” a recent article by Mark Samuels at

Samuels offers five recommendations for CIOs caught in the innovation v. tight budget bind. He counsels IT leaders to:

  • Develop new partnerships and ideas. Consider teaming up with universities, other companies, other departments, etc.
  • Think about long-term objectives. Projects with strong objectives are more likely to get funding.
  • Use governance as an enabler. Don’t view regulations as only onerous. They can also free you to ask the right business questions.
  • Get creative when it comes to contracting. Can customers and service providers share financial gain through innovation?
  • Match desire for change with business demand. Cultivate relationships throughout the business so you can understand – and respond to – line-of-business demands.  Flexibility is key.

In other words, link innovation to larger business goals.

Increasingly, IT is being asked to do more than just “keep the lights on.”  And consequently, CIOs are evolving into decision-makers who are being called on to make significant contributions to revenue growth while enabling the business to respond to rapidly to new market opportunities. Integrating IT to improve enterprise-wide productivity and performance is becoming increasingly essential for business success. Target technology innovation to these areas and you’re likely to score big wins in the near term.