A new Microsoft-commissioned study by Harris Interactive into the recession's effects on IT spending suggests that while the majority of IT professionals have given belt-tightening their highest priority, many also plan to increase their investments in virtualization, cloud computing and other tools to drive business efficiency.
Of the four countries surveyed-the United States, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom-the recession had forced a relatively small portion of the typical U.S. IT budget to be set aside for innovations as opposed to maintaining current system. In the United States, about 29 percent of IT professionals planned to spend their budget on innovation, versus 41 percent for Japan and the United Kingdom and 35 percent in Germany. IT management has been focused on keeping the lights on, the study suggests, with only 22 percent of those surveyed saying "giving the business a competitive edge" was the "current top priority."
The study was conducted between April 9 and May 5 and surveyed 1,200 "IT decision makers at enterprise and SMB [small and midsize business] organizations."
Forty-eight percent of those IT professionals seemed devoted to saving their cash through improving business efficiency, and two-thirds planned to invest further in virtualization, cloud computing or other tools designed to make infrastructure for both the enterprise and SMBs more efficient. By contrast, only 30 percent of respondents suggested they were narrowly focused on reducing IT costs.
For the future, security remains of top importance to those surveyed. About 73 percent of respondents said protecting customer and company data was their top security priority, followed by using security tools to advance overall business goals (52 percent) and increasing end-user productivity (51 percent).
Green IT also got something of a short shrift from those surveyed, with only 44 percent saying green technology was a factor in their final decisions concerning data centers.
Despite the current state of the economy, though, Microsoft executives see many companies preparing themselves on the IT side for the anticipated upswing.
"What we're seeing is those companies who invest today and focus their investments on efficiency are setting themselves up for a faster return to growth." Bob Kelly, Microsoft's corporate vice president of infrastructure server marketing, said in a June 23 conference call. "We are seeing many, many IT pros who are seeing this as an opportunity to invest for their future."