It’s time to lean in on IT hiring

How are you feeling about your IT budget over the next 12 months?

I ask because we have an Economic Outlook research study at CIO that we update on a quarterly basis and, since November of 2012, between 51% and 57% of respondents have said that their budgets would rise over the next 12 months. This quarter, however, just 35% of the more than 300 IT executives polled said that their budgets would increase in the next 12 months. The good news here is that the number of respondents saying that their budgets would decrease remained the same. So after three and a half years of increasing budgets, we are now seeing budgets primarily holding steady.

This doesn’t come as a complete surprise, with many trusted sources — including our sister company IDC, as well as Gartner and The Wall Street Journal, among others — reporting over the past couple of months that they’re seeing a global slowdown in enterprise IT spending. The myriad reasons for this include economic unrest in emerging markets (perhaps most notably China), a leveling-off of mobile phone shipments, and the upcoming U.S. presidential election, among other things.

In addition to the tech spending slowdown, the IT labor market is in a slump. There has been a sharp decline in U.S. IT hiring this month, according to consulting firm Janco Associates. And tech jobs website is reporting a decline in average IT salaries. The job market data is of more concern to me than the IT spending numbers, since many CIOs at large enterprises in various industries are telling me they can’t hire talent fast enough. Developers, data specialists, security specialists and business relationship managers are just some of the IT professionals who are in high demand, I’m told.

It’s one thing to hold the line on spending for a while, maybe until November’s election or through the end of a fiscal year. It’s another thing not to hire talented IT professionals to help you achieve corporate goals, get closer to customers and drive innovation and growth.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on these numbers and reports. Do they reflect what’s happening in your organization? Where does technology rank against other spending priorities? Is IT on par with sales, marketing and other departments in terms of what gets funding? Or is it one of the first to be asked to make sacrifices when the waters get a little rough?

As the publisher of CIO, I’m admittedly biased, but I think leaning into technology — and investing in the talented people behind it — can make you stronger in the long run. Please drop me a note and let me know your thoughts on these topics – @adamidg.


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