15 Sep CDW monitor: IT decision makers remain cautious on staffing, budgets
Vernon Hills, Ill. – The nation’s sluggish economy has small business IT decision makers reacting conservatively on their budgets and new hires, but they expect changes after the forthcoming presidential election, according to the August 2008 CDW IT Monitor.
Ninety percent expect IT staffing to stay the same over the next six months, but nearly one-third (31 percent) anticipate an increase in their IT budgets, up four points from June.
The IT monitor, a bimonthly indicator that tracks the direction and momentum of the American technology marketplace, is based on an online survey of at least 1,000 IT decision makers from businesses of all sizes and all sectors of government. The new monitor registered an overall index of 63, holding steady with the June 2008 score.
In this environment, Mark Gambill, vice president of CDW, said there still is a barbell effect where large and small things that need fixing take precedence, and things in the middle that can be put off, which normally make up a great deal of IT spend, are being put off. He also agreed that IT managers are trying to do more with the same staffing levels, and they are expanding the length of the refresh cycles for computers, printers, and other equipment.
“Technology continues to evolve very quickly, and there are efficiencies to be gained where you might not need as many people to do the same type of job,” Gambill said. “There are ways to outsource certain functions or, just through process or system improvements, you may be able to eliminate some manual steps that have occurred historically.”
In addition to their cautious outlook, four out of 10 IT decision makers say the upcoming presidential election will impact their businesses in areas such as budgets and staffing. Thirty-six percent of IT decision makers report that the election results will impact department budget decisions, and 28 percent report that the outcome will affect staffing/outsourcing decisions.
The polling also shows that nearly half (46 percent) believe the outcome will impact tax policies and 32 percent say it will impact data protection.
Small business IT decision makers express slightly more trust in Barack Obama (26 percent) to handle issues concerning IT professionals over John McCain (24 percent). IT decision makers are split evenly regarding which candidate they trust to handle issues of special concern to IT professionals, with 28 percent citing both John McCain and Barack Obama. IT issues identified as most important include tax policies (47 percent), data protection (38 percent), and offshore outsourcing (36 percent).
Gambill said IT purchasers were not asked about specific kinds of change, but they are thinking about how the election would affect their budget, and how they think about staffing and outsourcing. “Change is probably the most overused word this year for a number of different reasons, but I think you’ve got a very dynamic environment right now,” he said. “Couple that with the very difficult economic times, and I think everyone anticipates there is going to be some change because something needs to be done to stimulate the economy. You have two philosophically different perspectives on how to accomplish that.”
The IT Monitor score is composed of two sub-indices – the IT Growth Monitor, which measures future IT expectations, and the IT Value Monitor, which measures the value of IT in achieving organizational objectives.
IT issue agenda
|“IT Issues” most likely to be influenced by the outcome of presidential election||Overall||Overall Corporate||Overall Government|
|Cyber-security and data protection||38%||36%||45%|
|Government surveillance programs||28%||26%||39%|