As an alternative to full-blown virtualization, some organizations are starting to "containerize" their server, data center and cloud applications. "The reason for containers is all about agility and speed — that's what's pushing it today," says Colville.
3. Carbon-reducing technologies
Companies are paying more attention to their environmental footprints, and that's prompting a flurry of spending on energy-saving technologies.
In this year's Forecast survey, 16% of the respondents indicated that energy-saving or carbon-reducing technologies would be a new area of spending for them in 2016. In the data center, companies are investing in virtualization, new cooling technologies and power management capabilities, among other things, to help reduce energy consumption.
Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is in the midst of moving into Verizon's new, world-class data center in Miami. Energy was a top driver in the decision to move off-campus, according to CIO Tom West. "All of our servers will be virtual, therefore taking up a very small footprint and making us very energy-efficient," he says.
4. IT-marketing alignment
In the age of digital business, technology has become a critical asset in helping companies engage with customers and prospects. As a result, IT and marketing departments are collaborating and forging partnerships that once would have seemed unlikely.
Keith Collins, CIO, SAS Institute
Marketing technology -- everything from marketing automation to email campaign management and analytics -- is a major new area of interest for our survey respondents: 23% said they plan to increase spending on marketing technology in 2016, and 13% said it is a new area of spending for them. As companies place more of an emphasis on nurturing and engaging customers and prospects through multiple digital channels, there's a need for CIOs and CMOs to work together to drive new innovative use cases, ensure successful implementations and improve overall marketing effectiveness.
At SAS Institute, collaboration between marketing and IT is essential given the role technology now plays throughout the customer life cycle, according to Keith Collins, executive vice president and CIO at the Cary, N.C.-based software provider. "Digital transformation is affecting every area of the business, including how you touch customers, how you find customers and how you engage customers," Collins says. "All of this can't be executed without an effective technology plan, which is why there is so much energy in these partnerships."
5. A focus on customer experience
As companies look to deploy systems that simplify interaction and foster engagement with their target audiences, the customer experience has become a priority for IT.
It's certainly a higher priority for Computerworld Forecast survey respondents this year than it was a year ago. Last year, when respondents were asked to rank their top objectives for their single most important IT project, 11% chose "improving customer experience/satisfaction" -- putting it last among the list of options presented. This year, that same choice ranked fourth, picked by 16% of those polled.
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