September 23, 2009, 9:44 PM — There was a lot of difficult news for the high-tech industry this year. Hardware sales -- servers in particular -- cratered and equipment makers cut payrolls aggressively. But the damage, by some measures, wasn't as bad as it may have seemed, and new data suggest IT managers reduced hardware spending to save jobs.
In fact, more than half of the 243 companies surveyed by the Society of Information Management (SIM), an organization of senior level IT managers, cut their budgets this year -- double the percentage of previous years, according to a new survey. But in 2010, only 28% of those managers said their budgets will be cut and 27% predicted an increase. The balance won't see any increase or decrease in spending.
Here's another sign of improvement : The tech industry group Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) said on Wednesday that a survey of 200 U.S.-based IT organizations found that 48% of the companies expect to increase R&D investments, and a third plan to hike their own tech spending over the next six months. The number of companies that plan to hire also edged up to 29%.
Tim Herbert, vice president of market research at CompTIA, said he sees "a shallow U" shaped recovery for tech, partly because the industry didn't suffer as steep a decline as in some other industries. "It is not going to have the same sharp increase that a few other industries are now experiencing," he said.
Jerry Luftman, who conducted the survey for SIM, said the data shows that IT managers see a 2010 budget environment that's "less bad than this past year but not what it was, when things were good," he said, referring to pre-recession spending. Luftman is a distinguished professor and director of information systems programs at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. IT managers "are not sure whether it's going to be U, V or W recovery," he said.
In responding to the recession, the portion of IT budgets allocated to hardware declined to 33% versus 42% in 2008. The portion of the budget devoted to internal staff increased, reflecting smaller budgets but also an effort to keep employees rather than buy new equipment. "Rather than layoff people, they cut equipment," Luftman said. They also increased use of outsourcing services .