CDW IT Monitor: IT Staffing, Budget Outlook Brighter

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

The June edition of the CDW IT Monitor found that a growing number of companies will hire more staff in the coming months and that the majority of midmarket companies plan to increase IT spending.

The past two months have seen IT executives grow increasing bullish about the future of their organizations, according to the results of the most recent CDW IT Monitor, a bimonthly survey that gauges IT budget management and spending plans and tracks the perceived value of business technology.

The CDW IT Monitor index, which debuted in December 2007, fell to its lowest level in April. But this latest edition indicates the pessimism is easing as midsize businesses experience a rebound. The midmarket saw a three-point gain on the "Value Monitor" – the perceived value of IT in the company -- and a five-point jump on the "Growth Monitor" – the outlook on future IT budget management.

The June results showed that 27 percent of companies surveyed said they plan to increase IT staffing in the next six months.  That compares to 23 percent in April 2008. 

While the shift, particularly among midsizet companies, shows stabilization after a tough few months, it's a far cry from optimism, according to Mark Gambill, the CDW vice president who heads up the CDW IT Monitor index.

"People are hopeful with their fingers crossed," Gambill tells Channel Insider. "It's not gotten too progressively worse and that's given people some hope."

Overall, 51 percent of businesses predict IT budget increases over the next six months, a slight increase from April's 49 percent. Among midsized companies the jump was much more dramatic, climbing 10 points to 64 percent from April's 54 percent.

But not everyone felt the loosening up of IT budget management constraints.  While midsized companies saw their numbers edge upwards, small companies felt no relief whatsoever, Gambill says.

Small businesses remained the least confident with only 27 percent expecting a budget increase in the next six months.  Only 9 percent of small businesses expect to hire additional IT staff during that period compared to 25 percent of midsized companies and 41 percent of big companies.

"Small business is really feeling the brunt of things," Gambill says. "They can't cut people cause they don't have very many." So instead these companies look to cut back in other areas – IT projects for examples, or delay regular purchase cycles for IT upgrades.   "Small business doesn't have the flexibility."

Gambill says that while the index showed stabilization in June, there's still plenty of uncertainty in the marketplace and the presidential election year has just added another wildcard to the game. Over the last month or two the market has gotten a breather from the spate of bad economic news that hit early in the year, says Gambill. However, Cisco's CEO just warned of a softer than expected third quarter, Gambill noted.

"We are not past this challenging time," he says.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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