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Anthony Malakian, deputy editor, BST

Anthony examines some of the issues that companies fear in 2012.

Fear—it's a powerful motivator. And we all have different fears.

Some love market volatility; some dread it like a plague. Some embrace cloud technology; others see it as a disaster waiting to happen. These are scary times, so let's examine the role fear will play in firms’ goals for 2012.

Toward the end of 2011, I began asking my contacts two simple questions: What do you fear about 2012? What do your clients fear about 2012?

Simple questions, complex answers.

Many told me they were worried about staffing. While skeleton crews have become the norm, there seems to be an expectation of more bloodletting this year. When the market falls apart and uncertainty prevails, cutbacks happen—both in staffing and budgeting—and IT projects get shelved or scrapped all together. And in uncertain times, a project’s worth is more likely to be determined by the immediacy of return on investment (ROI) than anything else.

The eurozone crisis is hanging like a guillotine over everyone's heads. Several firms have recently expanded into the region, only to find projects freezing up. (And it should be noted that my boss, Victor Anderson, believes that the ticking time bomb will come in the form of city and state debt in the US.)

The US presidential election this year means it’s only a matter of time before politicians start rallying against Wall Street to score easy points. This can also mean more regulation.

Despite all the uncertainty around the state of regulation, my US contacts are less fearful as far as technology is concerned. Even if rules aren't finalized, they have a better feel for what they’re up against this year, more so than in 2010 and 2011.

I do believe that by the end of 2012, with regulations, politics, and (hopefully) unemployment under control, we'll be in better shape entering 2013 than we were when the ball dropped in Times Square this year. Hopefully fear of chaos will serve as a driver to improve current conditions.

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