The cover story on the latest Information Week, “Return to Growth” makes some interesting points. Their 2010 survey of IT priorities showed a drastic leap in the number of organizations that are focused on introducing new IT led products and services for customers. As editor Chris Murphy states: “IT tends to be most comfortable making business processes more efficient rather than driving sales and creating new products and working with customers”. So true.

And while the last couple of years have been painful, many IT organizations have been operating in their comfort zone. Now many of their organizations need them to help spur technology innovation to drive growth. Several challenges may hold them back. First, as mentioned previously, IT is more comfortable focusing on efficiency. Second, the cultural shift to innovation takes time. People are in the mode of minimizing their risk, so they won’t be thinking in innovative ways to change their business or industry. Finally, IT departments have cut their costs to the bone, so they lack the foundation for investment. They don’t have the capabilities in house, they have scrimped on infrastructure, their core applications are lagging.

And a couple of sidenotes: while I smiled to see that “aligning with the business” is FINALLY low on the list of priorities, I was disappointed to see that “meeting with customers” is also still pretty low. We clearly still have a ways to go.

It is going to be a fun year…