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Thanks to the 300 of you who took time out of your busy schedules to respond to the joint ITIC/GFI survey on customer relationship management and for OSF-Global in assisting us in composing the questions.

The survey results showed that nearly three-quarters – 74% — of companies are currently using a CRM solution and 57% of survey participants revealed that interest in CRM is increasing significantly. And perhaps most surprising, a 52% majority of survey respondents said they use more than 51% of their CRM solution’s functionality; of that number 18% utilize over 75% of CRM features.

CRM Usage Soars Among SMBs and SMEs

Customer relationship management (CRM) solutions long a staple in large enterprises are now also being widely embraced and deployed by small and mid-sized businesses to more efficiently track and manage businesses’ interactions with customers and partners.

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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.

Dear Santa: All I want for Christmas is a Virtual Data Center and a Big (Apple) Mac on my office desktop

The latest independent joint ITIC/Sunbelt Software survey found that demand and deployment for several technology sectors – most notably server and application virtualization – will remain robust in direct contrast to the bearish global economic climate.

ITIC and Sunbelt, polled C-level executives and network administrators at over 700 corporations worldwide on a variety of technology and business related topics. The Web-based survey included multiple choice and essay responses. In addition, ITIC and Sunbelt conducted two dozen first person customer interviews to validate the survey responses. ITIC and Sunbelt received no vendor sponsorship for this research. Additionally, no vendors had any influence or input into the survey or the results and none of the survey respondents received any remuneration for their participation. Approximately 85% of the respondents came from North America; the remaining 15% came from 20 countries including Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South America.

Virtualization Results

Virtually Yours: Server Virtualization Still a Top Priority in the Datacenter

Virtualization remains a high growth technology area, and the survey found that the market leaders – VMware, Microsoft and Citrix are all consolidating their positions. The survey also showed that while desktop and application virtualization will play a pivotal role for businesses – particularly enterprises with > 500 end users, the market will not materialize as quickly as it did for server virtualization. Among the survey highlights:

  • VMware remains the market leader but Microsoft’s Hyper-V is closing the gap. In response to a question in which we asked customers to select ALL the virtualization products they plan to use/deploy in 2009, nearly 60% said they plan to deploy VMware’s ESX Server (29%) or the free VMware Server (30%) . However, 52% of the respondents indicated they will use Microsoft’s Hyper-V or the older Microsoft Virtual Server; 37% of respondents indicated they will opt for Hyper-V compared with the remaining 15% who said they will use the older Virtual Server. This percentage is double the number of survey respondents who indicated they would use Microsoft hypervisor solutions when we polled users in a 2007 survey.
  • When it comes to Application Virtualization solutions, Microsoft’s App-V is the market leader, clearly beating VMware’s ThinApp by a 2-to-1 margin, which also came trailed Citrix’s XenApp 5.0. That said, it must be noted that thus far, only about 15% of the survey respondents have fully virtualized their applications across the entire enterprise.
  • It’s still very early in the game for the emerging application virtualization market: nearly two-thirds — 62% — of businesses have not yet even begun to deploy application virtualization in production environments (though pilot networks abound) or even chosen an application virtualization vendor.
  • Interestingly, in spite of cost constraints and pressures on IT budgets, only 7% of the survey respondents said they had attempted to renegotiate the terms and conditions of their virtualization licensing contracts to get better deals. Another 27% said they were studying the issue but had not yet made any definitive attempts to renegotiate and 66% said “No.”

Microsoft Vista: Most Users “Surprisingly” Satisfied

On the Windows desktop OS front, the ITIC/Sunbelt survey respondents gave Microsoft’s much maligned Vista operating system surprisingly high satisfaction ratings. We say “surprising” because Vista has gotten a lot of bad ink, much of it undeserved. Overall, 59% of the survey respondents said Vista was “Excellent”, “very good” or “good.” Despite these grades though, 45% of those polled said they would skip Vista and go directly to Windows 7 when that desktop OS ships in early 2010. Drilling further into the Vista responses:

  • To date, only 10% of the 700 survey respondents’ organizations have deployed Vista.
  • Windows XP is the primary desktop OS for 88% of the respondents.
  • Vista seems a victim of Windows XP’s success: Among the 45% of survey respondents who indicated they’ll skip Vista, the main reason(s) cited were cost constraints and the prevailing feeling that Windows XP is more than adequately meeting corporations’ business and technology needs.
  • The Vista experience was much better than anticipated for the 10% of companies that use Vista is their primary desktop OS: 27% rated Vista’s performance, reliability and security Excellent or Very Good; another 32% rated it “Good”, 19% said it was “Satisfactory.” Only 19% gave it an “Unsatisfactory” rating, mainly due to application incompatibility problems.

One recurring theme among the survey respondents was that since Windows XP is getting the job done, there’s no compelling business reason to upgrade to Vista.

“Windows XP, Windows 2003 and our other applications are more than adequate for now,” said one network administrator. “That means we will be investing very little in new infrastructure for the next couple of years. The constant upgrade progression for the sake of “keeping current” is dead for now,” he added.

The Vista desktop OS – all six flavors – is generally solid. The biggest impediment facing large enterprises deploying Vista is application incompatibility. This problem is especially acute in large enterprises that have dozens of third party applications associated with specific vertical markets. Consider the case of one such enterprise based in the Northeast with over 3,000 end users.

The company’s IT manager said his firm was 65% deployed onto Vista Business but, he noted, two of his crucial application vendors “have not yet migrated their products.” One is a financial application and the other is a GIS application. “They [the ISVs] have promised compliance by the end of 2009 so we plan to be 100% deployed on Vista by Q1 2010. At that time we’ll be ready to continue our normal replacement cycle (30% per year) deploying Windows 7 Service Pack 1 in late 2010!”

Apple Macintosh Enterprise Usage Continues to Grow

And finally, Apple Mac and OS X 10.x continue to make inroads in the enterprise.

  • Over two-thirds of the 700 survey respondents – 68% — indicated they are likely to allow their end users to deploy Macs as their corporate enterprise desktops in the next 12 months.
  • Almost one-quarter or 23% have a significant number of Macintoshes (> 50) present in their organizations. Apple Macs have long been a favorite of company executives, but the survey responses clearly indicate that Mac usage has filtered down to rank and file knowledge workers across the enterprise.
  • Half of all the survey respondents – 50% — said they plan to increase integration with existing Apple consumer products such as the iPhone to allow users to access corporate Email and other applications. This augurs well for the iPhone to establish itself as a viable alternative to Research In Motion’s (RIM) as a mobile device that allows users to access Email and other collaboration applications.

In summary, the ITIC/Sunbelt survey responses show that businesses will find themselves challenged to do more with fewer resources. The respondents also exhibited their practicality and resourcefulness in extending the lifespan of still-useful technologies like Windows XP. However those who have the need and the budget, will get an able assist from emerging technologies like virtualization – and for those that correctly configure and deploy them – Vista and the Mac and OS X 10.x