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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

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

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

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.