Corporate spending sprees have turned to cost-cutting initiatives, while governments are spending more in the hope of stimulating the economy.
Every penny spent must be explained and justified.
Organisations want to cut their day-to-day costs and one of the first areas to come under scrutiny in difficult times is IT.
Business has become dependent on IT, not only to administer day-to-day operations, but to aid decision-making, gain competitive advantage and support profits.
Ensuring businesses can deliver value from IT should therefore be a priority. Yet we have seen recent research suggesting that, even towards the end of 2008, only one in seven organisations believed they had the skills to maintain their IT.
Organisations not doing enough risk finding themselves in a situation where they have no one to maintain and evolve their core IT systems, which could cause irreparable damage to their businesses.
Most IT systems, from the mainframes of global enterprises to the traffic lights at the end of the street, still run on computer languages developed decades ago, such as COBOL.
Some organisations replace legacy COBOL systems with newer technologies. However, this is risky and expensive.
Other companies, though, aim to exploit what they already have through modernisation. Yet some are prioritising unrelated skills, in areas such as web 2.0 social networking technologies.
The number of IT degree graduates in the UK is believed to have shrunk since 2001. Furthermore, those graduating with core skills are outnumbered by students with web 2.0 training or similar.
Organisations are working directly with educational institutions to get the skills they need back on the curriculum.
Yet it is also essential for the government to deliver on its promises if technology is to help the country through the recession.
However, while embracing new technologies is a step in the right direction, the government needs to ensure it does not lose sight of the core IT assets keeping UK plc alive, by working with educational institutions to increase interest in core IT-related education.
The year-on-year decline in UK IT graduates needs to be reversed, to meet the demands of global enterprise IT.
In times of economic turbulence, organisations are not looking to rip and replace their existing IT but add value, save money and mitigate risk by modernising it.
Human resources with the right skills are needed. We think the recession could mark a turning point in the IT skills crisis.
Stephen Kelly is chief executive officer at Micro Focus
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