CDW: IT Spending, Hiring Outlook a Mixed Bag

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

IT decision makers have shown more optimism in 2008 so far than they had at the end of 2007, but most were expected to put off major IT purchases, according to the most recent edition of the CDW Index.

Calling the IT outlook a "mixed bag," CDW said that the mood of those in charge of the IT purse strings brightened a bit in the first two months of this year compared with the last two months of 2007, but IT decision makers are still holding on tight to the moneybags.
That's the conclusion from the second edition of the CDW Index, a measurement of IT decision-maker sentiment with regard to spending and hiring, based on a bi-monthly survey of 1,000 companies. CDW released its inaugural edition of the index in early January.

"Now you have IT decision makers who are expressing that they think their IT projects will get funded this year," said Mark Gambill, the CDW vice president in charge of the index. However, on the other side "CEOs are saying, 'let's not go crazy here – let's delay some spending.'"

That means small purchases and projects are likely to continue to be funded as usual, but mid-sized projects are likely in a holding pattern, Gambill said.

"If you had an enterprise-wide refresh pending, maybe you would hold off," Gambill said.

Among the key findings of the most recent survey:

  • Twenty-six percent of those surveyed plan to hire more IT staff in the next six months compared to 16 percent in December 2007.
  • Fifty-four percent plan to increase IT budgets in the next six months compared to 38 percent in December 2007. Six percent plan to decrease their budgets in February compared to 11 percent in December 2007.
  • The number of medium and large businesses expecting increased IT budgets in the following six months increased by 20 percentage points.

But while larger businesses expressed more optimism, smaller businesses took the glass-half-empty view.

"Small business people are clearly more concerned," Gambill said. "They tend not to value what IT can do for them in terms of growing their businesses the way medium and large businesses do."

Reflecting that, CDW reported that only 39 percent of small businesses said that IT is helping their bottom line compared to almost 80 percent of medium and large businesses.

Gambill said that some IT categories are likely to fare better than others. Those that look good for 2008 include mobility, unified communications, virtualization and storage.

"These are critical areas for all companies," he said.

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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