IT Decision Maker Sentiment a Mixed Bag for 2010

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


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As VARs and IT decision makers enter a new decade and leave behind one of the most difficult years in memory, there's hope on the horizon. CDW's new president and chief operating officer describes sentiment among IT decision makers as a mixed bag—which means there's some good in there, too.

On the eve of a new decade, Tom Richards, CDW's new president and chief operating officer, spoke to Channel Insider briefly about the tough year behind us, what lies ahead and the meaning of the data in the most recent CDW IT Monitor Index survey of IT decision makers. Here are excerpts of that conversation.

Channel Insider: The most recent CDW IT Monitor survey results indicated more positive sentiment than we've seen for a while. Was that a surprise to you?

Richards: I don't know that I'd call it a surprise. But it is some encouraging news. We've begun to see signs of things getting better but no one is stepping out and saying we are on a rocket trajectory. Still, it gives us some reason for hope.

CI: What trends did you see among big enterprises?

Richards: It seemed like when it came to looking at budget resources or intent to acquire new software, it felt like big enterprises were more optimistic. Over half of IT decision makers anticipate budget increases over the next six months, and three-quarters indicated that they would be installing new software.

CI: What about small and midsize businesses?

Richards: They expressed less optimism. I think some of that just has to do with the resources you have and your ability to withstand what some consider a fairly inconsistent view of the future. A larger corporation may have a few more resources and may have been able to make more savings. Smaller business has to be more conservative.

CI: What about government organizations?

Richards: We saw some optimism in parts of government. There was optimism at the federal level, but not so much at the state level. There was some optimism at the local level.

IT decision makers know that there is legislation in the hopper and from experience know that could have an impact in the market place one way or another. But it's just a general sense. From a business perspective there is clearly some uncertainty. For example, no one really knows what the health care bill could look like and what effect that will have on business, so people are rightfully conservative.

CI: What does this latest reading of the CDW IT Monitor mean?

Richards: It came in at 72, the highest reading we've seen since 2008. That's a fairly long stretch since we've seen an increase. And it means there is some optimism creeping into people's perspective. But the other side of it is people are not going to forget the last 18 months. It's a mixed bag at this point. A mixed bag has some good in it. And for the last 18 months the bag wasn't very mixed.

CI: What about IT employment?

Richards: According to the survey, 22 percent of corporate IT decision makers plan to hire additional staff. That's 10 percent more than in October. Is it a large number? No. But is it an increase over two months ago? Yes, it is. And within large business 34 percent expect to hire.

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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