PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA’S OFFICIAL CAMPAIGN WEB SITE IS A MODEL
of how 21st century technology tools can boost a candidate’s popularity, building
significant buzz via blogs, IM applications and e-merchandising. And Obama’s
campaign wasn’t confined to his own site either, because he chose to expand his
presence on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Eons and BlackPlanet. His images
and words also constantly popped up at outlets such as Flickr, Digg and You Tube.
All these efforts made Obama an accessible, immediate
and appealing figure to both younger voters and older ones
who regularly connect to the Internet. Ultimately, they energized his campaign and helped secure a decisive victory for
the nation’s first African-American president.
Certainly, Obama enters the White House with a reputation as one of the most—if not the most—tech-savvy chief
executives ever. For starters, he’s created the position of a federal chief technology officer to oversee the future of information technology for government agencies.
But how will his administration affect IT spending in the
purchase decision makers in
midsize and large organizations must deal with strapped
budgets and a shaky economic environment?
recently spoke with experts
and executives who are on the
front lines in dealing with the
new administration’s impact
on IT spending. Here’s what
they had to say:
Here’s the good news/bad
news scenario. IT purchase
decision makers can find both heartening and disheartening
news in a recent forecast from INPUT, a Reston, Va.-based
market research firm. The good news: Obama’s economic
recovery plan will seek to open up the credit market by broadening deposit assurances for banks and guaranteeing loans.
The bad news: Obama’s projected policies could have the
effect of adding 281 billion to the federal deficit, INPUT
reports, and he’ll seek to close corporate tax loopholes.
“There will still be opportunities to spend on IT in
2009 and beyond,” says Deniece Peterson, a principal analyst with INPUT. “But that spending will need to be much
more focused and tied to enabling priorities. Money will be
tighter, and there will be more gates to cross in the decision-making process. Those trying to justify a major IT purchase
will be asked more than ever what the impact of the purchase
will be and how it ties into the overall mission. What are the
short-term and long-term effects of buying or not buying it?”
In other words, it will all come down to figuring out which
technologies are considered must-haves. Those defined as
nice to have rather than must-haves—such as Web 2.0—may
see a potential dip in demand.
All eyes are on security and privacy. IT security
obviously remains a high-profile area of concern. The
Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency, a
bipartisan effort on the part of computer security experts,
has recommended that Obama set up a high-level post to
increase IT security and counter cybercrime, citing intrusions within the computer systems at the Departments of
Defense, State, Homeland Security and Commerce.
With the White House and Congress dominated by the
Democratic party, privacy is emerging as an equally promi-
nent issue. In a recent survey
of industry executive members
of the Washington, D.C.-based
Centre for Information Policy
Leadership, 90.9 percent pre-
dicted that an Obama admin-
istration would address issues
of privacy and information
security. More than seven in 10
members believe Congress will
enact major privacy legislation,
and more than six in 10 feel a
better approach is needed to
enhance the privacy and secu-
rity of personal information.
Will IT jobs stay here?
Another IT area in which the new administration could have
an impact would be by increasing barriers to the offshoring of
IT and other services. Obama’s campaign promises included
ending tax breaks for firms that move jobs out of the country
and awarding tax credits to firms that increase their ratio of
U.S. to non-U.S. employees, notes Sean O’Dowd, senior analyst at Financial Insights, a market research company owned
by Framingham, Mass.-based IDC.
Still, any meaningful change in this area will take years,
not months, even if Obama moves quickly. “You won’t see an
immediate spike,” O’Dowd says. “You’ll see more of a slow
progression. If the economy continues in a downward slide
for the first year of the new administration, companies will be
too involved with cost-cutting to put too much focus on this.
Besides, if the economy remains in trouble, Obama will have
far more critical issues to focus on than outsourcing.”
Adding more green to IT. Information technology
investments that reduce energy should also get a boost
in the new administration, as Obama’s New Energy for
America will seek a 150 billion investment over 10 years to
encourage development of technologies that reduce energy.
Spending will need
to be much more
focused and tied
—Deniece Peterson, INPUT