Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Average Salaries for Tech Professionals Increased 1.7% in 2007

Dice, a career site for technology and engineering professionals, today announced the results of its 2007 Annual Salary Survey. The survey of more than 19,000 technology professionals found that average IT salaries in the U.S. increased 1.7 percent to $74,570 in 2007, with experienced technology managers seeing thelargest increases.

Other findings from the survey include:

· Continued strong salary growth in Silicon Valley, as well as other tech centers including Boston and Atlanta;

· IT Managers received the biggest salary increases, including Project Managers (5.0 percent) and MIS Managers (7.8 percent);

· The Government/Defense and Computer Software industries both grew faster than average (2.8 percent), while the Banking/Financial industry remained virtually flat (0.6 percent increase) after an 8.5 percent increase in 2006;

· An increase in the gender gap to 11.9 percent (vs. 9.7 percent in 2006) as women’s salaries held steady while their male counterparts experienced a 2.4 percent increase;

· Satisfaction remained high among tech workers: more than 50 percent of respondents are happy with their salaries.

Tech salaries have slowly, but steadily increased over the last five years since average salaries declined in the early part of the decade. In 2007, average tech salaries increased 1.7 percent, following a 5.2 percent increase in 2006. 2006’s increase was driven by an almost 9 percent climb in the average contractor salary. In 2007, contractors still had the largest gains at 3.7 percent (for a salary of $93,017) while full-time workers experienced a 1.7 percent rise ($72,003). Technology professionals continued to be in high demand in 2007, with an annual average unemployment rate of 2.1 percent, ranking far below the national annual average of 4.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Top Paying Skills and Experience
IT managers are increasingly in high demand, and their salaries reflect this. job postings seeking a “project manager” or “project management” have grown by 25 percent since January 2007 and by 50 percent since January 2006. For the first time in the Dice Annual Salary Survey, two titles averaged more than $100,000, with Project Managers joining IT Management in the $100,000+ club. Project managers saw their salaries rise by 5.0 percent in 2007. MIS managers’ salaries increased approximately 7.8 percent to $88,934.

Tech workers age 40 and over had the highest salary increases at approximately 2.3 percent, while entry-level workers, with a year or less experience, saw their 13.2 percent increase from 2006 give way to a 2.3 percent salary decline in 2007. However, entry level tech workers still fared better than many other entry level positions in other industries, as they took home an average of $41,457, which is higher than the Bureau of Labor Statistics median income for fulltime workers of $36,140.

The larger the company, the larger the salary increases, as companies with more than 1,000 employees had the greatest increases (2.3 percent) and employees at companies with less than 50 employees reported a 1.8 percent decline in salaries.

E-commerce workers continued to see the largest salary increases, even after 2006’s 14 percent gain, pocketing an additional 4.6 percent in 2007. Government/Defense and Computer Software saw healthy increases (both at 2.8 percent) this year, and with the fallout from the credit crisis, the Banking/Financial industry not surprisingly experienced minimal growth (0.6 percent increase).

More than 50 percent of the technology workers surveyed are satisfied with their salaries, with 14 percent categorizing themselves as very satisfied and 39 percent somewhat satisfied. Those who were very satisfied earned an average of $93,065. The 11 percent of respondents who replied that they are very dissatisfied had average salaries of $51,560.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Top Executives Cite Competition, Global Economy, Attracting and Retaining Talent as Top Threats to their Companies’ Success

Competition, the health of the global economy and attracting and retaining the best talent top the list of threats to business success for senior executives at some of the world’s largest companies, according to a survey released by Accenture.

The survey of more than 850 C-suite executives in the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Japan and China also found that the pace of globalization has increased over the past year, when Accenture conducted a similar survey. Specifically, executives reported that their companies’ global reach has grown in terms of the suppliers they use, their own employees, their office locations and their customers.

According to the findings, executives perceive the top five threats to business success as competition (cited by 73 percent of executives), the health of the global economy and the inability to attract and retain the best talent (67 percent each), company reputation (62 percent) and the inability to develop new products and services (51 percent).

These same issues topped the list of threats cited in a similar survey that Accenture conducted in 2005. The one issue that has increased in importance, however, is that of talent, which was cited by 60 percent of executives in 2005 and rose to 67 percent in the new survey.

Globalization is raising a number of concerns among the executives surveyed. More than half (56 percent) said they are concerned or very concerned about the impact of the global economy on business. Respondents also expressed concerns about their ability to maintain a common corporate culture (cited by 54 percent), as well as service remote customers effectively and understand local ways of doing business (52 percent each). One in five (21 percent) said their organizations are not adequately equipped to succeed as global enterprises.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

85 Percent of CIOs Expect "Significant Change" Over Next Three Years

Eighty-five percent of chief information officers (CIOs) see significant change coming over the next three years as they look to meet rising business expectations for IT to make the difference in their enterprise strategy, according to a worldwide survey of 1,500 CIOs by Gartner Executive Programs (EXP).

CIOs are in a strong position to lead in making the difference. CIO tenure has stabilized at an average of four years and four months, giving CIOs ample time to work with executives to transform their enterprises. In addition, more than half of CIOs report having responsibilities outside of traditional IT, reflecting their enhanced business leadership position. The most common additional responsibility is related to business process improvement.

While overall IT effectiveness continues to climb, CIOs face challenges in their people, their processes and IT performance. Only 27 percent of CIOs believe that they have the right number of skilled people to meet business needs. That is impacting both IT performance and IT's support for enterprise strategies.

Web 2.0 and social computing are on the rise according to CIOs. Half of companies increasing their investment in Web 2.0 are doing so for the first time. Social computing is rapidly becoming a way that IT can play a direct role in making the difference to the customer and the market.

Worldwide IT budgets are expected to increase by an average of 3.3 percent in 2008, up slightly from 2007. Enterprises are willing to invest in IT that delivers distinctive solutions. IT budgets at these companies are growing at a rate of 4.9 percent on average, compared with IT budgets at generic IT shops, which will rise an average of 3.1 percent.

Improving business processes was the No. 1 business priority for the fourth consecutive year. Creating new products or services (innovation) moved from being the No. 10 priority in 2007 to the No. 3 priority for 2008. Business intelligence was the No. 1 technology priority for the third year in a row.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Best-in-Class Firms Increased Service Revenue Per Customer by 41%

As service ascends the corporate priority ladder, executives are not only looking to control and manage service-related costs but also to drive revenue recapture and creation opportunities from their existing customer base. In a recent research survey by Aberdeen, to further evaluate revenue generation strategies of more than 300 firms, 88% indicated that the need to develop new revenue opportunities from service was either “extremely” or “very” important. More so, more than two-thirds of all respondents, and 83% of Best-in-Class respondents, stated that they are actively engaged in new service revenue initiatives.

Of the 300+ survey respondents reporting, corporate goals of higher revenue in the face of shrinking product-based margins coupled with rising resource costs were cited as the top drivers for new revenue initiatives. As such, leading service firms were actively looking to segment their customer base to identify high value prospects and aggressively market complementary product and service offerings to these prospects. More than a third of leading firms also indicate taking steps towards the development of a sales force dedicated to service offerings.

For instance, these firms:

• Report having 60% of their customers under service contracts as compared to 31.9% for all other firms.

• Experience a 67% success rate in renewing service contracts when compared to 49% for all other firms.

• Are 54% more likely than all others to provide their service executives with visibility into contract registration, attachment and renewal rates.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

64% of Small and Midsize Businesses Will Increase IT Spending by an Average of 5.3% in 2008

According to the AMR Research small and midsize business (SMB) IT spending study, 64% of SMBs will increase their IT spending by an average of 5.3% in 2008. The main reasons for this IT budget increase include outside-in pressures such as meeting customer demand and handling increased competition and internal pressures such as increasing efficiencies and decreasing costs.

Currently, SMBs are focusing the majority (49%) of their budgets on applications that help them run their businesses. But applications that support innovation (25%) and growth (26%) are increasingly important as well. The most strategic software investments for 2008 will be in customer management applications (18%), an investment that reflects the increased customer demand many SMBs are facing.

But, according to the report, companies are planning to focus their strategic investments in business intelligence (BI) and performance management (PM) applications in 2010.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

User-Determined Computing’ Redefines Information Technology Prioriti

When making decisions about investments in information technology (IT), organizations must shift their mindset from Wall Street to Main Street in order to retain and win new customers, according to the findings of a global study of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) released by Accenture.

The survey results indicate that executive and technology leadership – under pressure from investment analysts and other Wall Street observers – are undertaking superficial improvements in their IT systems rather than making fundamental changes to meet the growing demands of users.

Users -- including consumers, business customers and, in the case of government, citizens -- are demanding more because of their ever-increasing familiarity and comfort level with technology, an emerging phenomenon that Accenture has called “user-determined computing.”

The study also indicates that the chasm between Wall Street and Main Street is wide and deep, with little evidence that companies and organizations are working to close it. At the same time, low-cost, emerging-market multinationals are establishing a completely new set of expectations around user experience, participation, mobile access and real-time responsiveness.

The study, based on detailed online self-assessments of the senior-most IT executive at nearly 300 Fortune 1000 companies in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and South America -- with combined annual revenue of $5.3 trillion -- yielded multiple findings that illustrate the depth of the chasm between Wall Street and Main Street:

  • IT teams still spend 40 percent of their total time running and fixing existing systems, a number that remains essentially unchanged since Accenture conducted its last global IT study in July 2005. This is a result of many legacy systems remaining on life support for more than a decade and an unwillingness to pull the plug on outdated systems. In fact, on average more than 60 percent of all enterprise systems in the study were fully depreciated.
  • On average just 22 percent of customer interactions, 19 percent of supplier interactions and 33 percent of employee interactions are conducted online and processed automatically.
  • Only 11 percent of information system interfaces focus on the customer.
    Some 80 percent of organizations are failing to gather very detailed customer information and 84 percent are failing to make the information very accessible to decision makers and line staff.
  • Only 35 percent of enterprises around the world are committing mobile applications to a major part of their business and only a fraction look seriously at such collaborative tools such as Wikis for their knowledge workers.

Another survey objective was exploring how large organizations manage their IT investments and to identify the common underlying behaviors and characteristics of “high performers.” Some findings related to high performers, which Accenture defines as those that consistently outperform their peers in revenue, profit growth and total shareholder return, include:

  • More than 25 percent of application interfaces run by high performers focus on the customer, as opposed to 15 percent of low and average performers. More than half of all CIOs, however, say they need to increase customers as a priority for real-time interfaces.
    IT innovation leaders are already leveraging Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) for legacy integration, and are further ahead today in building new SOA-based applications.
  • The study found that 38 percent of high performers’ application portfolio is comprised of composite applications built using SOA, and 45 percent of new application functionalities of this group are built based on use/reuse of existing services.
  • Masters in IT execution, having adopted disciplined approaches to increase standardization and centralization of their IT functions in recent years, are spending on average 19 percent less time on operations (i.e. running, fixing) than other CIOs.
  • High performers have shed most of the legacy technology, as they report having the youngest application portfolios. When it comes to application migration, over two-thirds of high performers report looking for alternatives to traditional enterprise applications for their externally facing applications such as sales and marketing and customer services. In addition, over one-third of high performers will look for on-demand/Software as a Service applications for supply chain & distribution, research & development, human resources, finance and accounting.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

IDC Predicts the Number of Worldwide Mobile Workers to Reach 1 Billion by 2011

Pressure on companies to provide work/life balance programs for employees combined with advances in mobile technologies is increasing the number of mobile workers in the U.S. and around the world. By year-end 2011, IDC expects nearly 75% of the U.S. workforce will be mobile.

The current generation of workers is demanding more flexibility and mobility in their schedules. They also have a higher comfort level with technology in general, including remote access technologies and mobile devices. The proliferation of high speed networks, widespread public Wi-Fi hotspots, and fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) technology now allows employees to work effectively from almost anywhere.

In addition to meeting the demands of today's workforce, enterprises are deploying mobile solutions to meet both horizontal and vertical industry needs driven by increasing business response time as well as to help reduce corporate space (and leasing) requirements. Organizations deploying mobile solutions enjoy a strategic competitive advantage over their competitors who have not invested in integrating mobility into their cultural roadmap.

Regional comparisons indicate that the U.S. workforce has the highest percentage of mobile workers at 68% in 2006. However, Japan's penetration rates will increase the most during the forecast period with mobile workers accounting for nearly 80% of the workforce by year-end 2011, up from 53% in 2006.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Best-in-Class Companies Improve Time to Decision, Customer Satisfaction and Employee Productivity with Operational Business Intelligence

Aberdeen revealed that Best-in-Class (BIC) companies – those performing in the top 20% of all survey respondents – have achieved several business benefits through operational BI initiatives, including management’s view to operational information, time-to-decision, customer satisfaction, and employee productivity. Sixty-three percent (63%) of Best-in-Class companies surveyed have decreased the time between actual business activity and decision-makers’ ability to take action during the past 12 months - compared to 23% of Industry Average companies, and only 6% of Laggards.

According to research presented in a new report, “Operational BI: Getting Real Time about Performance,” Best-in-Class companies have increased their customer retention rates at over four times the levels of Industry Average companies. Best-in-Class organizations showed significant performance improvements in comparison to Industry Average and Laggard companies in several areas over the previous twelve months.

Best-in-Class companies achieved:

• 7% mean average decrease in time-to-information – measured as the time between business activity and delivery of information to decision-makers, over the past 12 months
• 5% mean average decrease in time-to-decision – measured as the time between business activity and decision / action taken, over the past 12 months
• 20% mean average improvement in customer satisfaction, issue resolution speed, and issue resolution accuracy in past 12 months
• 12% mean average improvement in customer retention during past 12 months
• 13% mean average improvement in system up-time / data access and availability for end-users over the past 12 months

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Most Organizations Are Not Prepared For a Business Outage Lasting Longer Than Seven Days

Business continuity management (BCM) and disaster recovery (DR) programs are getting better, however, work still needs to be done to increase the quality and maturity of BCM/DR programs. According to a Gartner Inc. survey of 359 information security and risk management professionals from the U.S., U.K. and Canada, nearly 60 percent of organizations only plan for their longest outage to be seven days.

When planning for specific types of disaster scenarios, 77 percent of companies have a plan for a power outage or fire, and 72 percent have a plan for a natural disaster, such as a flood or hurricane. At least half the companies surveyed also have plans for IT outages, computer-virus attacks, terrorism and key service providers’ failure.

Most BCM/DR plans are for a single facility outage, and planning for regional disasters has dropped in priority during the past couple of years. Organizations are, however, taking pandemic planning warnings more seriously than in the past (29 percent in 2007 vs. 8 percent in 2005).

With the growing awareness that continuing business operations after a disaster requires a lot of planning, organizations are also realizing that the approach to best manage an incident is to have a dedicated group of people on a crisis management team. A total of 37 percent of organizations use a physical crisis command center to coordinate emergencies, such as a local hotel room or conference room. However, understanding that many disasters happen when employees are not in one place, 31 percent of companies have established a virtual command center so that traveling or off-site personnel can be included in the management of an incident.

Conducting a business impact analysis (BIA) is the most critical process in the development of a DR strategy and associated plans because it provides the business requirements used to develop the plan. Exercising (formerly called testing) on a regular basis is the second most-critical component of a BCM program. Having a plan is only a fraction of the maturity of the BCM/DR process. Knowing that the plan works during an actual emergency is key to a business's survival. A total of 28 percent of organizations reported that their last DR exercise went well and met all their service targets. However, 61 percent of survey participants reported that they had problems with the exercise, which should not give any organization a good sense of security that their DR program will meet the business recovery needs when a crisis strikes.

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Customer Service Quality Falling Short of Rising Expectations Across the Globe

Companies are not keeping pace with consumers’ rising expectations for service, especially in emerging economies, according to results of a global study released by Accenture.

The findings are outlined in a new report, “Customer Satisfaction in the Multi-Polar World: Accenture 2007 Global Customer Service Satisfaction Survey Report,” the third in a series of annual studies designed to examine consumer attitudes toward customer service. While the studies in 2005 and 2006 focused on the United States and the United Kingdom, the 2007 report expanded the geographic scope to also include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China and France.

More than one-half (52 percent) of the more than 3,500 consumer respondents surveyed this year across five continents reported that their expectations for better service have increased over the past five years. Additionally, one-third (33 percent) said they have higher service expectations today than they did just last year.

Expectations increased the most among consumers in emerging economies. More than nine out of 10 consumers in China (93 percent) said their expectations for better service had increased over the past five years, and 75 percent said their expectations are higher than they were a year ago. In Brazil, nearly half (48 percent) of respondents said that their expectations had increased since last year.

The findings indicate that increases in customer service expectations continue to outpace efforts made by companies to improve service. Globally, nearly one-half (47 percent) of survey respondents said their expectations were met only “sometimes,” “rarely” or “never.” The highest level of dissatisfaction was found among Brazilian consumers, with two-thirds (67 percent) of those respondents reporting that their expectations are met only “sometimes,” “rarely” or “never.”

Even in developed economies, where companies have spent billions on customer service capabilities, dissatisfaction with service remains high. For instance, more than half (52 percent) of U.K. consumers said the frequency with which their customer service expectations are met is “sometimes,” “rarely” or “never.”

The gap between service expectations and the services consumers receive translates into lost business. A majority (59 percent) of consumers in developed and emerging economies reported that they quit doing business with a company due to poor service; the figures were significantly higher for consumers in the emerging economies of China and Brazil -- 85 percent and 75 percent, respectively. Additionally, the findings found an increase in the number of U.K. consumers who reported a significant increase in switching service providers due to poor service -- 58 percent, up from 50 percent in 2005.

The study found that customer churn resulting from poor service remained prevalent across industries. Retailers, banks and Internet service providers were the industries most frequently identified by consumers as those where poor service had led them to take business elsewhere -- selected by 21 percent, 21 percent and 20 percent of all respondents, respectively.

To begin to address the service issues identified in the findings, the Accenture report recommends that organizations incorporate the customer’s perspective, values and actions into their business and operations strategy, and into their capability development and execution.

For instance, 43 percent of consumers surveyed identified the ability to resolve an issue with a single call rather than speaking with multiple service representatives as one of the most important aspects of a satisfying customer service experience. By contrast, only 22 percent identified the speed of the response.

More than four out of 10 (41 percent) of all respondents reported that the overall quality of service they receive is “poor/terrible” to “fair.” The most severe evaluation of quality was rendered by French consumers, with 60 percent of them saying that the service they receive tends to be “poor/terrible” to “fair.” Although satisfaction with service was highest in the United States, only 7 percent of U.S. respondents rated it “excellent,” and 28 percent said it was “poor/terrible” to “fair.”

Additionally, when asked if they expect better service in exchange for spending or purchasing more frequently from a company, 71 percent of respondents said they expect “much” or “somewhat” better service. The expectation for “much better service” when spending more was particularly strong among Chinese and Brazilian consumers, at 83 percent and 63 percent, respectively. Expectations of consumers in developed countries were a bit lower: 35 percent in the United Kingdom, 38 percent in Canada and 39 percent in the United States.

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Online Shoppers Value Convenience, Price, Product Selection

Ecommerce trade publication has published results of its December 2007 online buying survey. Over 900 respondents participated in the survey, and they give an interesting perspective on what buyers deem important when shopping online.

Online-Buying Survey Highlights:

--The biggest advantage to online shopping was convenience, respondents said, while the biggest disadvantage was not being able to closely inspect items before purchasing them. It's not surprising to learn that 61% of respondents bought from online auction sites and 55% of them bought from Amazon, given that 83% of respondents sell online. But it's interesting to note that 50% of respondents bought from major retail sites - and 29% purchased from "mom and pop" sites. Only 3% did holiday shopping on classifieds sites.

--A relatively small percentage of respondents said they shopped online primarily for price (6%). Instead, most said the biggest advantages to shopping online versus going to a mall or traditional retailer was the ability to shop at their convenience (45%) and because it was easier to find what they wanted (27%).

--When asked which one factor was most important when deciding where to shop online, top answers were Product Selection (20%), Price (17%) and Security (17%).

--Many said the biggest disadvantages to shopping online was that they couldn't closely inspect the item before purchase (44%), shipping costs (17%) and risk of non-delivery of item (11%).

--When asked what method they employed most frequently to find items, 44% said they used search engines, and 39% said they went directly to a retail website. Only 7% used comparison shopping sites most frequently. When asked to rate various methods by how often they used them to shop online, 65% used Search Engines "frequently" and 25% "sometimes," while 18% used comparison shopping sites "frequently" and 34% "sometimes."

--When asked which services they used to help them find products, 90% said they used Google, followed by Yahoo (22%).

--Sixty-five percent of respondents "sometimes" (33%) or "frequently" (32%) use consumer reviews (such as Amazon Buyer Reviews and eBay Reviews & Guides) to help them make their buying decisions.

--When asked to rate their level of satisfaction with their overall online buying experience, 61% said they were "Very Satisfied," and 36% said they were "Satisfied."

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Consumers Struggle With Microsoft Vista, Malware and Network Setups, a remote tech support service, found the majority of consumer tech issues in 2007 fell into three categories: virus and spyware issues (27 percent), tune-ups (31 percent) and simple quick fixes (32 percent), according to its first annual call center issues review. In its inaugural year, found that consumers struggled with Microsoft Vista, accounting for 10 percent of calls. The review findings also indicate an increased consumer demand for tech support in dealing with social networking and virtual game play.

Even with advances in and awareness of computer security, viruses and spyware continue to infiltrate computers, leaving consumers frustrated and unable to protect their computers properly. In 2007, technicians removed an average of 36 viruses per computer. Technicians reported this is due to exposed vulnerabilities once the computer is infected, leaving other viruses to be downloaded without detection.

Other review findings include:

-- While virus and spyware removal ranked as the top problem in the call center, slow performing PCs came in second on the list.

-- Even with increasing computer "ease of use" it is still hard to actually diagnose and resolve computer issues, which range from home network and printer setup to software installations and setting up data security.

-- And in the category of "weirdest issue of the year," the call center reported several calls of a more adult nature. For example, at the request of a desperate consumer, technicians successfully adjusted his avatar's appendage in Second Life, boosting his online popularity.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Technical Support Centers Outsourcing Less, More Focused on Customer Service

HDI, a membership association for IT service and support professionals, has released the findings of the 2007 HDI Practices and Salary Survey. The study highlights important trends in the help desk and IT service and support industry.

Some of the key findings in this year’s report include:

--Support centers appear to be outsourcing support less than in the past. In 2006, 57% of respondents reported contracting with outsourcers. This year, only 42% of respondents reported that they outsource some portion of the support function; 58% reported that they do not, nor do they plan to do so.

--74% produce and report performance metrics, and about half share their metrics with external stakeholders such as customers and support partners – an increase from previous years.

--Customer satisfaction ratings are high, with 76% reporting 4 to 5 ratings on a 1 to 5 scale. This finding aligns with the results in the HDI Customer Satisfaction Benchmarking Study.

--Telephone and email continue to be the most widely used channels for reporting incidents. More than 70% of centers participating in the survey have average speed-to-answer (ASA) times of 30 seconds or less (approximately 1 to 6 rings). The data also suggest that email processes may be improving slightly. About 93% of incidents reported via email are resolved in three exchanges or less, an increase from 88% in 2006.

--In terms of tool and technology usage: 81% of respondents are currently using remote monitoring/support tools; 68% of them have no plans to make changes to these tools; 88% of support centers are currently using incident management software, 30% of them are planning to replace/update it; 25% of support centers are planning to add self-help tools. And, the majority of respondents have purchased, but not fully implemented the capabilities of their service management tools

--With 32.4% adoption and 27% “planning to implement,” ITIL is the largest single framework impacting the IT support industry. However, 23% of survey respondents are not using Service Level Agreements, Operational Level Agreements or Underpinning Contracts.

--Incident management is on the rise, with more incidents to manage and the majority of support centers’ time (75%) spent on incident management. The increase is attributed to changes in infrastructure and/or products – suggesting that support center managers must constantly prepare for change within their support centers.

--IT support professional salaries have risen only slightly since 2006. Plans for support centers next year include increased hiring for 45%, and layoffs for only 5%. It is a continued concern that there will be a lack of qualified workers to fill these positions.

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