Are you ready for the upturn?

Should CIOs be getting ready to change gear asks Mark Samuels?

The Doctor's Surgery: Various commentators and experts believe the tarnished British economy has started to take on a more rosy hue. The British Chambers of Commerce recently upgraded its UK growth forecasts for the next three years from 0.9 per cent to 1.3 per cent in 2013, from 1.9 per cent to 2.2 per cent in 2014, and from 2.4 per cent to 2.5 per cent in 2015.

There are other indicators, too. Service firms saw UK sales and orders rise at the fastest pace since 2007 during the third quarter of 2013, while rises for manufacturing were the sharpest since the early 1990s. Such positive indicators are good news for embattled British executives, but they also present something of a conundrum to CIOs.

The big problem with an upturn is that the preceding period of economic stagnation has meant CIOs and their executive peers have had to run the business in a lower gear. A climb towards growth will need a more ambitious approach. Unfortunately, finding the right gear is no straightforward task.

IT leaders have spent the past five years pushing down costs and trying to make the most of existing technology resources. The move towards growth will create a clamour for technical innovation, especially as all-things-digital is often seen as the key to gaining a competitive advantage.

But downward pressure on costs since 2008 has led to a severe under-investment in enterprise technology across the boardrooms of UK plc. The consumerisation of IT also hasn't helped, with line-of-business executives believing technology problems can almost magically be solved by workers bringing their own devices to work.

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