Stressed out technology workers who have been drowning in work because of staff reductions in 2009 will see some relief in the coming year, predicted researchers at Computer Economics in a study titled "Outlook for IT Staffing and Spending in 2010," released Dec. 15. In 2010, 39 percent of 139 companies surveyed plan to increase hiring, Computer Economics said, while 52 percent of those companies will increase operational technology budgets in 2010.
For the remainder of 2009, however, a third of surveyed companies are still prioritizing IT cost-cutting, according to the report, and 16 percent will continue to ride the cost-reduction train in 2010.
"Based on our 20 years of tracking IT budgets, all signs point to a recovery year," Frank Scavo, president of Computer Economics, said in a news release. "IT executives are prepared to make midyear adjustments, up or down, based on the strength of the recovery, but right now it appears we see a year of stabilization in IT spending and staffing."
Recent findings from a Gartner poll of 190 executives were in line with the Computer Economics study. Overall, Computer Economics forecasts 2 percent median annual growth in IT operational spending next year, which is slightly lower than Gartner's forecast that IT spending will increase 3.3 percent in 2010. Likewise, Gartner found 52 percent of companies surveyed plan to increase IT budgets in the coming year.
To put things in some historical perspective, Computer Economics reported that in 2005-the year "when IT finally rebounded from the deep tech-led recession"-budgets for IT were in the 2.5 percent growth range and grew mightily from there to 4.1 percent in 2006, 5 percent in 2007 and 4 percent in 2008.
About 7 percent of companies in the Computer Economics study are planning staff reductions in 2010-compared with earlier years, a further sign that the recession's impact is waning.
"It now appears clear that IT spending and layoffs hit bottom sometime in 2009 and that we are seeing the beginning of a small renewal in spending on new equipment and personnel," Computer Economics said in its news release. "If the economic recovery proves sustainable, this forecast could be conservative, as many IT executives are planning for second-half adjustments once the picture clears."
By comparison, 35 percent of companies were slashing budgets at the end of 2008 and only 11 percent were increasing spending.
"At that point, however, business leaders were worrying about the possibility of a global financial meltdown," Computer Economics said. "This year, IT organizations are continuing to restrain spending as they approach year-end, despite [the fact] that many of those same organizations anticipate a green light to raise spending in the year ahead."
How many jobs are being created by these increases was not addressed in the Computer Economics and Gartner reports.