IT Changes Quickly, Perceptions of It Don’t

Views of technology's value among IT purchase decision makers have improved only gradually since 2007.
David McCannMay 25, 2010

Information technology is getting faster, richer, and more powerful at ever-accelerating speed, but views on its value by people making technology purchase decisions at corporations are evolving at a more deliberate pace.

CDW, a tech-consulting firm, has been conducting a survey of such decision makers every two months since late 2007. While that group clearly thinks IT is more effective now, the shift is only incremental, survey results suggest.

In the latest CDW poll, conducted in late March among 1,050 corporate and government participants, 83% of corporate users said IT is very or somewhat effective in achieving company goals, up from 76% two and a half years earlier. Similarly, 84% said they are very or somewhat satisfied with IT purchases, compared with 72% in the inaugural survey. And those saying IT helps improve financial performance climbed to 71% from 64%.

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Matt Troka, CDW’s vice president of product and partner management, attributes the increased satisfaction to both technological advances and companies making smarter purchase decisions. “For example, if you look at [Microsoft] Office 2007 versus Office 2003, there’s a bunch more functionality that people were looking for,” he says. “I’d hate to call it a quantum leap, but there is forward movement.”

CDW also tracks IT spending and hiring trends, two areas that have recovered somewhat from the recession doldrums of a year ago. In the most recent survey, 49% of respondents said they expect their IT budget to grow in the next six months; only 40% said so in March 2009. The gain was greatest — from 43% all the way to 59% — among companies with 100 to 999 employees.

Some of that increase is attributable to pent-up demand for mission-critical items such as networking equipment, Troka says. But many companies are continuing to make do with older gear, such as printers, that don’t drive bottom-line value.

With regard to hiring, the number who anticipate hiring additional IT staff in the next six months climbed from 16% a year ago to 24%. “In our talks with customers,” says Troka, “last year people were saying they hoped to hire, but this year more are saying they are going to hire.”