Still Wait-and-See if 2011 IT Industry Predictions were Right or Wrong

by Jim Staats | Sep 18, 2011

With more than half of 2011 under our belts, analysts and job seekers are still determining which IT industry forecasts had it right and which were way off.

What is clear is that an abundance of job seekers are still seeking that elusive opportunity. Here are some facts and figures to take into account.

Globally, IT revenue growth this year is projected to hit 4 percent, based on CompTIA’s quarterly IT Industry Business Confidence Index, an online survey of 1,118 IT companies at the end of 2010.

The index, comprised of three metrics: opinion of the U.S. economy, opinions of the IT industry and opinions of one’s company, has been on a steady upward climb since September 2010 due to signs of a strengthening economy. The highest possible confidence rating is 100, and it was predicted that this index would climb more than 5 percentage points to 65 in the first half of 2011.

This optimism based on renewed market stability and optimism predicts a bit more free spending by businesses. More than half the surveyd companies had plans to increase their spending on technology with nearly 40 percent announcing plans to add staff.

Not everything in the study is bright and shiny. IT executives remain concerned about weak consumer spending, downward pressure on margins, government regulation and unknown economic shocks - which we’ve learned now aren’t so unknown anymore.

Key technology trends for the year, according to this survey, revolve around connections, data, mobilization and automation.

CompTIA used figures from three different research firms as global indicators for its survey, and each firm predicted global IT spending to grow by at least 5 percent in 2011.

Continued IT hiring activity is forecast for the third quarter of this year, according to a survey of more than 1,400 chief information officers from companies across the U.S. released last month in the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report.

In the latest of the quarterly survey, 7 percent of CIOs surveyed indicated plans to expand their IT departments while 3 percent predicted cutbacks for a net increase of 4 percent. Good, but not great, as this is a dip from the net 7 percent IT hiring activity indicated in the previous quarter.

Nearly half of the CIOs surveyed cited a challenge in finding skilled IT professionals, a slight increase of 5 percent from last quarter.

Network administration remained the most in-demand skill set, according to 68 percent of CIOs surveyed. Desktop support remains a close second, garnering 66 percent of the response, followed by Windows administration at 56 percent.

Functional areas in which executives interviewed predicted the greatest challenge in finding skilled IT professionals remained networking (21 percent) -- up from 13 percent last quarter, and security (16 percent). Applications development and help desk/technical support followed, with 14 percent and 12 percent of the response, respectively.

Retail and manufacturing sectors topped the list of those with high hiring expectations, with nine percent of CIOs surveyed expressing plans to expand their IT departments.

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