By Samuel Greengard
No organization has escaped the lingering impact of the recent recession. While budgets and resources have undergone greater scrutiny and oversight, IT departments have been forced to unveil new and more complex technologies—all while building a comprehensive framework for the future.
Fortunately, things are beginning to improve. A December IT survey of 200 global information technology professionals (three quarter were from the United States) conducted by DATA Inc. found that 68 percent witnessed an increase in infrastructure spending in 2012. Meanwhile, 57 percent reported a larger budget for application support services, and 44 percent witnessed an increase in spending for staffing and custom application development.
These increases are taking place across a wide swath of industries, noted Arun Verma, DATA’s CEO and president. “The survey results show positive trends for the information technology industry,” Although many IT executives remain cautious about spending, a variety of issues—from new regulations to new technologies and the need for efficiencies—are driving many technology investments.”
The coming year will see a continuation of the trend, the report predicted. In all, 77 percent of survey respondents said they believe spending will increase above 2012 levels. Indications point toward a greater emphasis on application development tools and technologies. Moreover, there’s a shift away from custom solutions to maintenance.
Several other spending issues appeared on the radar of IT executives. For example, 46 percent of respondents stated that testing and QA will be a higher priority for investment in 2013, while 44 percent indicated that they anticipate investing in the development of mobile apps next year, a number that Verma says is surprisingly low.
The top concern for IT executives is finding technology vendors that have adequate experience and knowledge (84 percent), followed by the challenges of selecting the right products and solutions (77 percent), and understanding the cost benefits (76 percent).
Verma says there’s a prevailing attitude that strategic IT spending is growing more important, particularly as a growing array of approaches and strategic options emerge. Businesses recognize that they must continually and consistently invest in an IT infrastructure and adapt to new technologies or risk falling behind the competitive curve.
The survey also provides some insights into the skills and knowledge desired within the IT field. For instance, technical certifications are no longer enough to rise above the crowd. A college degree or graduate degree is extremely helpful when seeking employment or avoiding IT sector cutbacks. Slightly more than four out of five respondents indicated that they are currently employed.
This correlates with other demographic data indicating that close to 80 percent of IT professionals have completed work in a bachelor’s or graduate program and possess one or more technology or industry certifications. Meanwhile, 77 percent of unemployed IT professionals continue to rely on online career boards such as Monster.com and Dice.com, and 71 percent said they rely on LinkedIn. About half (51 percent) rely on the traditional referral to find a job.
The takeaway? “Every opportunity will need to be weighed carefully—from employment opportunities to investments in new technology solutions,” the report concludes. This means focusing on trimming costs, driving productivity and tapping into advances in cloud computing, mobile technology and other areas to build a more mature and agile IT framework.