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  • While worldwide IT spending was previously projected for a slight boost in 2015, a revised forecast indicates that sales will actually decline this year, according to the latest research from Gartner. The pattern will affect industry categories across the board, including communications services, devices, IT services, data center systems and enterprise software. Fortunately, the pattern isn't linked to any decrease in demand; it's all about the rising U.S. dollar. "We want to stress that this is not a market crash," says John-David Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner. "Such are the illusions that large swings in the value of the U.S. dollar versus other currencies can create. However, there are secondary effects to the rising U.S. dollar. Vendors have to raise prices to protect costs and margins of their products, and enterprises and consumers will have to make new purchase decisions in light of the new prices." The forecast includes additional insights about the hardware, data center, enterprise software and other markets, and we've included a sampling of that information here.

  • An overwhelming majority of IT professionals and leaders reported that their organization does not have all the required technology skills in-house to address organizational needs, according to a recent survey from TEKsystems. A significant share of IT leaders said many candidates lack preferred tech skills and/or "soft" skills, and that the job pool is often too small to find the right fit for an open position. As a result, team members are often less efficient, deliver lower quality work or experience greater stress, among other consequences. "The IT skills gap is real and is [affecting] organizations' abilities to be successful, and it can lead to a vicious cycle of lower employee morale, inefficiency and attrition," says Jason Hayman, research manager for TEKsystems. "The cycle can only be broken by deliberate, careful analysis of the skills needed to achieve organizational goals. A well-defined workforce strategy is by far the most effective weapon organizations can deploy to combat the IT skills gap." The findings also shed light on why some tech pros are having a difficult time finding a job. More than 1,300 IT leaders and professionals took part in the research.

  • Hybrid cloud environments come with a variety of challenges that companies will need to address if they're to be successful with this type of IT environment.

  • A significant number of CFOs are facing major challenges when it comes to big data and overall IT investment decisions, according to a recent survey from Epicor Software. Many reported that their finance systems need updating, given that a significant number of them still rely on relics such as spreadsheets for work tools. They're also encountering issues with planning and forecasting, and said the mistakes frequently occur due to inaccurate data. As a result, key strategic decisions are often stalled while CFOs and their teams strive to extract meaningful insights from the data. "Digital disruption has introduced more data sources, more channels, more numerous and complex business models, a more global nature of business and more reliance on external partners," says Malcolm Fox, Epicor Software's vice president of product marketing for financial management and services industry solutions. "This is a real challenge for all business leaders, but particularly so from the perspective of fiscal management and financial operations." An estimated 1,500 CFOs and other global finance business professionals took part in the research.

  • The line between technology and business decisions continues to blur, as a significant share of business executives said that IT plays a critical role in strategic execution in their organization, according to a recent survey from CompTIA. The accompanying report, "Building Digital Organizations," reveals that most IT leaders said technology objectives are becoming more business focused, and that they're highly confident in their ability to apply tech efforts to business goals. At the same time, most business execs collaborate with the IT on their tech spending plans, rather than making these acquisitions on their own. And most of these business decision-makers describe their relationship with IT as a good one, which bodes well for a positive, lasting partnership. "Since the first mainframes, the goal of IT has always been to enable a business to achieve things that would otherwise be impossible," according to the report. "New technology models allow companies to continue chasing typical pursuits such as cost cutting or increased efficiency, and they also open doors to new products, new customers and new data." A total of 650 U.S. business and IT executives took part in the research.

  • Audits used to be done because of whistleblowers or suspicious licensing behaviors. Now, most software providers do audits as part of their business practices.