The economic climate has led many companies to question the benefits of IT spend and whether the financial outlay can justify the return.
Market economics have, on the whole, forced businesses to reduce their IT spend – whether in-house or outsourced. The CBI warned in June last year that IT budgets were likely to flat line until 2011, and our own research backed this up, showing that two-thirds of companies had reduced their IT spend in the last 12 months.
Clearly, certain sectors have been hit harder than others. Not surprisingly, IT spending in retail has dropped - only in the summer, it was announced that IT budgets had been reduced to a record low of 1 per cent of sales following another year of cutbacks.
But it isn't all doom and gloom for the IT industry. There are some business sectors that are bucking the trend to reduce IT costs and are instead actually increasing investment in order to follow best practice. One of these is the accountancy sector, which is opting to outsource more of its IT functions than operate it in-house.
Accountants were early adopters of technology, embracing remote working and home working, which has led to a greater need within the industry for robust, reliable and secure IT infrastructure.
Making the decision to use external expertise has been beneficial to the growth and development of SRLV, a top 60 UK accounting practice. The 100-strong company has outsourced all its IT functions – hardware, software and consultancy – for more than 10 years.
Explained Laurence Finger, Managing Partner at SRLV: "We've outsourced our IT for some time now. The biggest advantage is that our supplier remains up-to-date on technology and can be pro-active, always suggesting systems or hardware that can improve the way we do business. It's also an added advantage that the company we use has worked in the financial services world and understands how we operate – it saves us time having to explain how we do business."
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), which represents the finance industry, believes IT is critical to business. The organisation supports over 136,000 chartered accountants around the world, offering technical knowledge, skills, expertise and global insight and leadership.