2012: the outlook for IT managers

We are moving away from the IT department being separate from the organisation.

"If you try to analyse everything, you are doomed to failure," he cautions. "The secret is to be very focused, and crystal clear about not just the data that can be analysed, but the data that makes the difference." By helping the business to focus, the IT manager ensures better results, and saves money and resources.

This is not an easy task, and it requires the IT manager to combine people skills, technical know-how and a good understanding of the business' operations and priorities. At the Open Group, Allen Brown describes the ideal IT manager as a "T-shaped" person.

"The T-shaped person has deep vertical expertise, but has to have a horizontal bar of knowledge across marketing and finance and distribution, to make them more relevant across the organisation," he says. "We are moving away from the IT department being separate from the organisation."

Business basics

And the IT manger will have to approach their ongoing personal and technical challenges alongside a business climate that is likely to remain difficult. Although Gartner expects worldwide IT spending to rise in 2012, by 9.1 per cent to $79.8 billion, the the outlook for Europe remains tougher. CIOs are only likely to propose, and boards are only likely to fund, projects that either improve sales or reduce costs, or risk.

Projects as diverse as mobile working, apps for tablets, "big data" analysis and even security need to work for the business. The IT manager's challenge, in 2012, will be ensuring that they do.