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Our computers

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Continuing high employment certainly isn’t great news for the economy. But could it also cut into IT sales? Most likely, according to CompTIA’s Tim Herbert, vice president of research, who notes that if those businesses aren’t hiring then they won’t be buying new PCs.

And while news this week showed some positive momentum in service sector hiring and job creation – such as the ADP report released Wednesday – that report and the report issued by the U.S. Department of Labor on Friday this week still showed a net loss of jobs of somewhere between 20,000 and 22,000.

That didn’t stop Intel from rolling out its new line of Intel Core vPro chips this week and talking about the very competitive channel pricing for a whitebox line of laptop computers that the company says will offer partners margins of over 10 percent.

Or PC makers from saying that they would incorporate those chips in a new line of PCs, and hoping that the mythical refresh cycle that we’ve all been waiting for would arrive as customers fell over themselves to be the first to get their hands on a PC with these new chips running Windows 7.

But let’s face it. While we are all hoping for a recovery in 2010, we are doing it in a conservative and superstitious way so that we are not the ones left standing without a seat in case the music stops again. As businesses expand, they are more likely to hire contract workers using their own personal PCs rather than a brand-new company-issued PC.

IT investments this year are more likely to focus on technologies that can deliver a strategic advantage to the company or save the company money. So while budgets won’t be locked down the same way they were last year, the money that is spent will be allocated carefully and then measured.

Think about the kinds of technology that you offer that fit that description. What services can you add that could help those customers meet those strategic goals? Many of the people I’ve spoken to recently are still talking about the promises of virtualization, energy-saving audits, business intelligence and better collaboration tools. Does that fit with what your customers are telling you? How will you change your focus this year?

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