Research Unearths a Pinch of Technology Hiring

By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2009-06-30 Print this article Print

Computer Economics has put out its latest research on IT spending and staffing, and the numbers are mixed.

The research—2009/2010 IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks—looks at 18 different industry sectors and subsectors showing metrics that can be used for budgeting and to get a wide snapshot of the IT landscape of your peers.

Some of the major findings include:

  • Operational spending is falling or flat for most.
  • The worst may not be over.
  • Most CIOs think operational budgets are adequate.
  • Spending has adjusted to revenue.
  • Spending per user is actually up.
  • Manufacturing and retail IT are worst off.
  • Capital spending is flat or down.
  • Cost-cutting is the priority.
  • Staff reductions pick up (with 46 percent planning to decrease staff).
One statistical tidbit worth noting, however, is in regard to staff increases. Twenty-seven percent of the 202 CIOs and executives interviewed for this survey say they are planning on some increases. While that may not seem like much, it's worth digging into a bit more.

Here's what John Longwell, director of research at Computer Economics, said to me about getting a little more detail on the job increases, decreases and the sectors they represent:

While employment will continue to be soft this year, the two sectors with the strongest hiring are health care and utilities/energy concerns.

More than 60 percent of the health care providers in our survey are increasing staffing levels this year, and staffing levels are up 2 percent at the median. If not recession-proof, health care spending is less influenced by downturns and we would anticipate that information technology will be important to any health care reform measures.

About half of all utilities and energy organizations plan to increase IT staff this year, and staffing levels should rise about 2 percent at the median. These organizations are very IT-intensive.

Retail will continue to shed the most jobs, according to our IT spending and staffing survey. IT hiring will also be soft in both discrete and process manufacturing sectors, as well. No surprises there. If you're looking for work, retail and manufacturing companies are not likely to be good candidates.

Financial services is a mixed bag. The insurance sector is continuing to shed jobs. Only 21 percent of insurance organizations tend to grow IT staffing levels this year. The banking and other financial services, however, are showing some surprising signs of life. About one-third of the banks in our sample plan to increase staffing levels. While not good, it is above average. From an IT spending and staffing perspective, it appears the worst is over for the banks.

I'm a little leery of the financial sector still. I'm not sure we have hit bottom with these institutions, and while it's obviously a "mixed bag" statistically, it's not necessarily the most stable industry. |

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