IT Focuses 2002 Spending on Content, Customers

Although the economy and IT spending remain in the doldrums, IT executives are planning to increase spending in a few key categories this year, according to a report released this week by Aberdeen Group Inc. Specifically, IT organizations plan to focus t

Although the economy and IT spending remain in the doldrums, IT executives are planning to increase spending in a few key categories this year, according to a report released this week by Aberdeen Group Inc. Specifically, IT organizations plan to focus technology spending on improving their current investments in e-business, retaining customers and optimizing IT assets.

"There are some interesting surprises regarding which applications and technologies users perceive as having a definitive ROI [return on investment]," said Hugh Bishop, an Aberdeen senior vice president, in Boston. The IT research company surveyed 250 IT executives in late 2001.

Content and document management applications led the pack of software product categories on which IT managers plan to increase spending, with 45 percent of IT executives intending to purchase those applications in 2002. The others in the top five were Web analytics (43.7 percent), customer service and support (42.6 percent), Web management applications (42.2 percent), and financial analytics (38.1 percent).

The applications categories on which the fewest IT managers plan to increase spending were vertical marketplace applications (6.3 percent), professional service automation software (8.7 percent), manufacturing systems (9.8 percent), partner relationship management (11.1 percent) and supply chain management (13.7 percent). (The low number of responses often reflects the specialized nature of some of the software, Aberdeen reported. Partnership relationship management software, for instance, is only applicable for companies with a large sales channel to manage.)

In what Aberdeen calls technology infrastructure solutions, the top categories revolved around security and business continuity, two major areas of focus for corporations since Sept. 11. The top three solutions IT executives intended to buy in 2002 were security gateways and services (55.3 percent), network and systems management applications (55.2 percent), and backup and recovery software (50.5 percent).

The Aberdeen report also delves into how much more IT executives plan to spend on various hardware, from desktops and handheld devices to mainframes and servers as well as spending plans for services such as IT outsourcing and technology strategy consulting. In hardware, servers were expected to have the highest growth with an average of 10.2 percent, with mainframes at the lowest growth with an average of 1.3 percent. For services, IT executives expect to increase spending on systems integrators the most (7.1 percent) and on technology strategy consultants the least (4.8 percent).