I recently caught up with one of my contacts whose company makes a good chunk of its change from the financial services industry to find out how things were going for his particular niche in these recession-laden days. Bill Hayduk, President of RTTS (Real-Time Technology Solutions), let me know that in the space in which his company plays--quality assurance for custom application development projects--it has not lost any assignments.
RTTS has about a 60-40 split in its client base (60 percent with pharmaceuticals, utilities and others; 40 percent with large financial services companies in New York). Luckily, the financial services companies RTTS does business with did not include Lehman Brothers or other nonbailout companies.
"This has a different feel than the implosion that happened in 2000," Hayduk told me. "Technology today is much more ingrained in day-to-day operations."
Having that 60-40 split probably doesn't hurt. Nor does branching out from traditional QA.
Hayduk let me know that one of the challenges RTTS has in the financial services space is a continued pressure on reducing contractor rates, and so the company continues to work on diversifying its client base. The thing he stressed is that the business of IT may be in for some slowing down, but it's not the wholesale chopblock that is being portrayed out there, particularly for systems that are seen as critical to business operations and future business success.
Another thing that is helping is that RTTS is involved with outsourced projects that involve more than standard quality assurance for applications. It has been able to diversify its projects in application performance testing and security testing. Hayduk touts strong partnerships with the professional services divisions of IBM and Hewlett-Packard as being key areas of stabilizing business for his company. He pointed to acquisitions of SPI Dynamics by HP and Watchfire by IBM (both in the application security space) as areas of continued business.
Is it in Hayduk's best interest to say things are good? Yes. But some of the most reliable economic indicators for IT (government data) right now are showing IT employment to be pretty strong. Yet, as Brian Watson over at CIO Insight continues to ask: Is it possible for IT not to have widespread worry?
Is it still early to tell if spending in IT is going to become a major issue? Oh, yes. All the analysts have revised spending numbers to say expect less spending. It's probably going to mean no new equipment for many of you out there (sorry, sys admins).
So what does this mean?
- Some contracted IT work in financial services plays a key role and isn't disappearing.
- Professional services partnerships are important.
- Application security testing continues to expand.
- Consistently diversifying skills as a company and as a worker may be key to helping get through the instability.
- This is a single, isolated application-testing company, and there have to be others that don't present as nice a picture.
In a related story, as CIOI's Ed Cone rightly points out, Don't blame IT for the Wall Street mess.
Tell us what you are seeing out there. How are things for you?