IT executives are feeling optimistic about a possible sector recovery this year, according to a new survey from CompTIA.
Following a wave of well-deserved pessimism that lasted most of 2009, executives were more upbeat when surveyed by the tech trade association in December. The new outlook prompted the rating for CompTIA's third IT Industry Business Confidence Index to jump 6.3 points to 56.6 out of 100.
With a rating higher than 50, the index now marks the first time positive sentiments outshone negative ones. The first two indexes from July and September of last year both scored under 50.
Over the next six months, IT executives are expecting further growth in the economy, the IT industry, and their own companies. If all goes well, CompTIA expects its confidence index to rise another 6.5 points this year, pushing sentiment firmly into positive territory.
Among IT executives surveyed, 34 percent said they're likely to boost spending over the next six months, and 31 percent plan to hire more staff. On average, most see global IT spending rising 2 percent to 4 percent this year, with growth in the U.S. slightly lower. Executives also forecast that their own IT services will rise anywhere from 2.5 percent to 5.5 percent in 2010.
Identifying growth technologies and markets for the year ahead, those surveyed cited four key areas: security products and services, health care IT, green IT, and virtualization.
Seventy-five percent said consumer tech will increasingly influence corporate tech, 80 percent said more businesses will look at cloud computing models such as software as a service, and 78 percent felt that companies will rely more on telework, virtual offices, and other mobile ways of working.
But those questioned conceded that the economy is by no means out of the woods yet.
"Many macro-economic indicators have improved over the past six months, lending factual support to the positive perceptions of IT executives," Tim Herbert, CompTIA's vice president of research, said Monday in a statement. "Yet some big unknowns still loom, such as unemployment, the impact of public sector debt and the tight lending and credit market. Until these factors start to turn around, exuberance about an economic recovery will rightfully be tempered."
As 2010 unfolds, IT will also face challenges trying to juggle the goal of investing in R&D versus the pressure to rein in costs.
CompTIA, short for the Computer Technology Industry Association, is a nonprofit trade association that offers certification, research, and other services to IT professionals. To compile its Business Confidence Index report, CompTIA surveyed executives from more than 300 U.S. tech companies in mid-December.