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The final results from ITIC’s 2010 IT & Technology Trends Survey indicate that businesses of all sizes, across all verticals will maintain IT staffing levels and budgets during 2010 as they continue to implement upgrade and migration projects that began in 2009.
ITIC partnered with Stratus Technologies and Sunbelt Software to conduct the non-vendor specific Web-based survey which polled 650 respondents from 19 countries worldwide on a wide range of key IT business, budget and staffing subjects. The survey focused issues impacting organizations during 2010. They include: IT budgets and staffing; PC and server hardware refresh cycles and user deployment plans around pivotal technologies like virtualization, cloud computing and Green datacenters.
The survey responses indicate that the ongoing economic recession appears to have bottomed out. After two years of slashing costs and cutting staff, organizations are finally beginning to rebound and cautiously spend on necessary IT infrastructure improvements. Happily, only a very small (2%) minority indicated their organizations are planning layoffs in 2010 and only 15% of survey respondents said their IT budgets will decrease this year.
However, pragmatism is still very much the operative byword. Over one-third of organizations – 35% — revealed that their IT budgets will remain the same in 2010, while 26% say their budgets will increase in the New Year. Interestingly, 15% of respondents say their 2010 IT budgets are still not approved as of this writing and 8% remain “Unsure” of their budgets for the next 12 months. And while it’s good news that only 2% of survey respondents are planning layoffs, only 5% of those polled said their organizations planned to add IT staff during 2010.
Survey respondents indicated that their organizations, from the smallest businesses with fewer than 25 workers to large multinational enterprises with over 100,000 employees, will be extremely conservative with respect to their IT budgets, spending only on necessary items.
2010 Top Priorities: Disaster Recovery, Hardware Upgrades & Virtualization
Survey participants specified disaster recovery, upgrading server hardware, deploying new applications in support of the business and server virtualization software as their top IT technology spending priorities for 2010, in that order.
Other network housekeeping chores also ranked high on users’ “to do” lists. Additionally, those polled cited the need to replace older versions of server operating systems; upgrading desktop hardware; upgrading legacy server-based applications; improving revenues and profitability, upgrading desktop operating systems and upgrading storage infrastructures.
The ITIC 2010 IT & Technology Trends Survey was also notable for identifying those issues that are low on organizations’ IT spending priorities. These include: implementing public cloud infrastructures (which was chosen by only 4% of respondents); adding IT staff (5%); building a private cloud (7%) and Green data center initiatives (10%).
Other survey highlights include:

• Smooth running infrastructure is crucial. Nearly eight out of 10 businesses – 79% — say that a smooth running infrastructure in support of non-IT business operations is the most important result of IT investments to senior management. This was followed closely by cost reductions in IT operations (72% of respondents). Avoiding regulatory issues and problems was the third most popular result according to 60% of respondents while driving new business and increased revenues came in as the fourth most popular IT investment result , with 50% of respondents. Another 40% of those polled stated that investing with an eye toward future IT infrastructure needs was crucial to their IT investments. Somewhat surprisingly only 11% of the respondents cited staying ahead of the competition technologically as an important factor to their senior management.
• Modest budget increases and decreases. Among respondents who say their budgets will increase, the largest percentage – 27% — say the increases will be modest in the 4% to 6% range. Only 3% indicated their budgets would rise by 30% or more while 50% are unsure. Similarly, of the 14% minority of respondents who noted that their budgets will decrease, 18% say the declines will also be in the single digits. Only 7% of the respondents indicated their firms will slash 2010 IT budgets by 21% or more.
• IT Hiring: Just under half of those polled – 47% — say their organizations will maintain current IT staffing levels for 2010. In a sign that business is improving, 25% of those polled say their organizations will hire additional IT staff as needed in the coming 12 months. Another 15% of respondents, say their organizations have made no decisions on hiring and are taking a wait and see approach. Tellingly, none of respondents said their organizations will hire “a significant number” of new IT staff in the coming year and none indicated their firms will re-hire workers that were laid off in the prior 12 months.
Analysis: Organizations Will Work Smarter and Harder
Overall, the ITIC 2010 IT & Technology Trends Survey indicates that nearly three years of economic hardships have taught organizations to work harder and smarter. The responses to both the Web-based multiple choice questions, the essay responses and first person customer interviews all paint a compelling picture of organizations that are focusing on the bottom line but are determined to stay current on technology in order to maintain network uptime.
The responses – particularly with respect to server hardware and main line of business server applications – illustrate that organizations from academic and non-profit environments to government agencies and commercial businesses are making budget and deployment decisions that are both tactical and strategic.
Not surprisingly, two out of five respondents — 41% — said the ongoing economic downturn has caused product lifecycles to lengthen. However, nearly that same percent – 40% — say the tight economy has not impacted their product upgrade cycles. However approximately one-quarter of respondents said they retrofit their servers to save money instead of purchasing new equipment, and 18% of respondents say their organizations are adopting a more strategic approach to the tough economic times by purchasing more robust/more expensive servers so they last longer.
Overall, a 61% majority of respondents said their server hardware was three years old or less. Again, these actions clearly underscore how much organizations rely on their server hardware to maintain uptime. Similarly, all of the respondents place a premium on security and disaster recovery equipment and planning. In fact, these two technology segments appear sacrosanct: despite the downturn of the last three years, a miniscule 3% of organizations said they’ve cut security or disaster recovery spending.
This eye on acting in the present with an eye towards the future was also evident in organizations’ approach to their primary concerns/considerations in evaluating products with intent to purchase. The top choice here according to 36% of respondents was choosing a solution that fits long-term IT infrastructure strategies. That was followed by 21% who indicated that choosing the solution that provides the best ROI for the business was a key criteria when evaluating rival vendor product offerings with an intent to purchase.
On the IT/business questions, it is apparent that Senior IT management is firmly in charge and is the most influential group in the organization in terms of setting strategic direction, taking the lead and influencing purchasing decisions by a wide majority.
Government, Non-Profit Agencies Feel the Pain
Survey respondents in the Government, IT/Technology Services Providers and non-profit sectors were among the most vocal in their essay comments and first person interviews. Typically, organizations in these market segments have smaller budgets and fewer resources than their commercial counterparts. It’s therefore not surprising that any budget cuts or staff reductions would hit them harder. The respondents in these sectors were both pragmatic and resigned about how their IT departments were struggling to do more with smaller budgets and fewer resources, and how they do not expect to see a significant economic turnaround in the foreseeable future.

Finally, based on the survey responses, Green data center initiatives will evolve slowly. To date, only one out of five survey respondents — 20% — said their organizations have begun Green data and IT initiatives. An even smaller minority – just 4% said that Green initiatives were a top priority for their organizations in the next 12 months. The largest segment of the respondents 27% said their organization will not implement Green IT and data center initiatives in 2010, while – 25% indicated that are actively studying the issue. During customer interviews, many IT managers and executives said they have yet to do a full TCO or ROI analysis of how Green data center and IT initiatives can help the business. Until that happens, it’s likely they will not make a concerted effort to go green.
In summary, 2010 will be a pivotal year for IT infrastructure upgrades. Organizations will continue to be cautiously optimistic and pragmatic as the economy slowly rebounds.