Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Study Finds Nearly 60% of Companies Plan to Increase Their IT Spending

As the economy regains its footing, companies are striving to be more efficient, competitive and productive all the while through increased IT investments. According to a recent survey by Windows IT Pro, 58% of companies plan for increased IT capital spending in the next 12 months. The survey results also reveal 80% of companies indicate new or enabling technologies are the main catalyst for the increased spending. 

Increased spending seems to be driven by a shift to cloud computing and virtualization, the need for operating system upgrades, and the proliferation of security threats companies have been faced with. The flexible cost model cloud computing offers seems to be one of the biggest drivers to the cloud.

Other notable findings from the study include:

-- 53% indicated improving IT security and managing infrastructure as a top priorities in 2012

-- 45% plan for operating system upgrades in 2012

-- 71% plan for IT capital increases because of hardware and software obsolescence

-- Reliability is more important than price and features when it comes to selecting IT products and services

More information on IT spending can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com

Monday, November 21, 2011

Study Finds U.S. Workers Under Pressure to Improve Skills, But Need More Support from Employers

The majority (55 percent) of workers in the U.S. report they are under pressure to develop additional skills to be successful in their current and future jobs, but only 21 percent say they have acquired new skills through company-provided formal training during the past five years, according to a study released by Accenture.

The Accenture Skills Gap Study, which surveyed 1,088 employed and unemployed U.S. workers, found that while more than half (52 percent) have added technology skills in the past five years, few have updated other in-demand skills such as problem solving (31 percent), analytical skills (26 percent) and managerial skills (21 percent).

The study also found that more than two-thirds (68 percent) of workers believe it is primarily their own responsibility, rather than their employer’s responsibility, to update their skills. However, only 53 percent of unemployed workers report they understand which skills are likely to be in demand in the next five years, compared to 80 percent of employed workers.

Employers’ role in closing the skills gap

The study suggests that employers may be hindered by not be having a complete picture of all of the skills they have within their organization to handle specific jobs. Just over half (53 percent) of respondents said their employers document their skills, but more than a third (38 percent) said their employers look only at specific job experience and education to match employees to jobs rather than looking at all of their talents and capabilities.

Limited ability to shift employees to different jobs within their organizations may also be preventing companies from fully utilizing their workers’ skills. Only one-third (34 percent) of respondents report that it is easy to move to another job within their company where their skills would best be utilized, and slightly less than half of respondents (49 percent) report that their employer does a good job of providing a clear understanding of the skills needed for different roles and career paths. More than one-third (36 percent) of workers say that they would be willing to move to another location where demand for their skills is strongest or where their skills could be put to better use.

Career path choices also are contributing to the skills gap, according to the study. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of all workers say they’ve had to change careers at least once in order to meet the challenges of the job market. However, only 28 percent report that they had an understanding of the skills required in their new career before making a change.

More information on service and support can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Information Trumps Automation as Global CIOs Shift Budget Priorities in 2012

New research from Corporate Executive Board, a research and advisory services company, says CIOs expect to spend 39 percent of their 2012 project budgets on information management initiatives and 32 percent on process automation projects. This represents a significant shift in corporate IT departments' priorities as information outstrips process automation. CEB also anticipates rapid growth in cloud and mobile applications spending. Cloud spending is projected to increase by more than 20 percent and account for approximately 7 percent of total budgets; mobile applications will increase by more than 60 percent and account for roughly 4 percent of budgets in 2012.

CEB anticipates that the increased focus on information over process, first seen in 2011, will continue into the foreseeable future. The shift, which the company predicted in 2010 with its Future of Corporate IT study, is accelerated by the rise of big data and the desire for organizations to use information more effectively to gain competitive advantage.

Related CEB research finds that supporting the mobile employee is a top infrastructure priority in 2012. CIOs are increasingly allocating budget to the conversion of existing applications as well as the development of new mobile apps. They also continue to invest in infrastructure to facilitate mobility. Reducing infrastructure costs and supporting business innovation are also on the priority list and drive much of the increased interest in cloud-based services, particularly Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

CEB's projections are based on the company's 2012 Global IT Budget Benchmarking report representing USD $38 billion in IT spending. The report suggests that overall operating budgets will be roughly flat with growth of just under 3 percent -- less than a third of the actual increases reported in 2011. Capital expenditures will also flatten in 2012 after an increase of more than 20 percent in 2011, which allowed organizations to clear a backlog of projects left over from the recession. With that backlog largely gone, IT capital expenditures will increase by only 5 percent in North America and will decline steeply (14%) in Europe amid economic woes.

Other notable findings of CEB's 2012 IT Budget Benchmarking report include:

-- End-to-end Services Grow in Popularity -- the majority of CIOs (54%) are expecting to offer at least some end-to-end services in 2012. An additional 11 percent will move to a multi-functional shared services model in which IT becomes integrated with other corporate shared services. This trend is anticipated to continue far beyond next year. More than 70 percent of organizations will have a more integrated service offering by 2012.

-- IT Staffing Remains Constant -- with approximately 60 percent of IT operating expenditure allocated to workforce, including internal staff, contractors and outsourcing providers, the allocation of IT staff remains stable. The highest staffed IT function is applications (41%), followed by infrastructure (22%). IT functions are also developing roles to help facilitate the transition to integrated service models.

More information on CIOs and IT can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com

Thursday, November 10, 2011

HDI Announces Release of 2011 HDI Support Center Practices & Salary Report

HDI, an IT service and technical support association, announced the release of the 2011 HDI Support Center Practices & Salary Report. Further proving HDI's dedication to the advancement of the industry, the report features research pertaining to industry trends, tendencies, and best practices, utilizing statistics and data provided by IT service and technical support professionals themselves.
Key findings include:

-- Support centers continue to see an increase in ticket volume; sixty-eight percent saw an increase in 2011.

-- New customer equipment, devices, and applications are the number-one factor in ticket volume increases.

-- Support centers are shopping for technology this year; more than fifty percent of support centers will be adding, upgrading, or replacing their knowledge management and self-help tools.

-- Fifty percent of support centers are using social media to provide support.

-- For the first time in the survey's history, the term service desk is being used more than help desk.

-- There is greater utilization of less expensive channels of support, such as web requests and auto-logging.

-- Two-thirds of the industry distinguishes between incidents and service requests, but only forty-three percent of support centers are measuring them separately.

-- Forty percent of support centers have staff working remotely and an additional ten percent plan to implement remote support in the next twelve months.

-- Smaller support centers pay higher salaries than their larger counterparts for staff-level positions (non-management).

More information on service and support can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com

Monday, November 7, 2011

Survey Reveals Today's IT Professional Workforce is Content and Optimistic About the Future

Amid fears of a "double-dip" recession, rising unemployment, and continued economic turbulence, a new survey of IT professionals conducted by Modis, a provider of information technology staffing solutions, paints a brighter picture of the current career outlook for the field. According to the survey, a large majority (89 percent) of IT professionals are happy at their current job and two-thirds (64 percent) intend to stay where they are presently employed. In addition, nearly half (44 percent) of all IT professionals expect a raise next year, while only a quarter (26 percent) expect their salaries to remain the same.

This widespread career contentment may be the result of survey respondents feeling that the things they find most critical to their job satisfaction are being fulfilled. These factors include having a boss that does not micromanage (70 percent), having a good salary and benefits (62 percent), and having opportunities to receive training in new technical skills (61 percent).

Modis' survey, conducted by Braun Research, Inc., also revealed which areas of IT are expected to see the most growth over the next five years. Cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) are seen as poised for the most growth (29 percent), closely followed by security (21 percent) and mobile solutions (18 percent).

Additional findings from Modis' survey include:

-- Cost savings is a top priority for IT organizations. Perhaps a result of the economic recovery, IT professionals say the most cited priorities for their organizations today are achieving cost savings (62 percent), followed closely by finding IT solutions for internal demands (61 percent) and taking a more integrated approach to improve communications with the rest of the business (52 percent).

-- IT professionals are cautiously optimistic about increasing their team size in 2012. While the majority of IT professionals (65 percent) believe their IT team will stay the same size in 2012, more than a quarter (28 percent) think their teams will increase headcount either marginally or significantly in the year ahead.

-- Feelings about job security in IT vary. If another economic slowdown occurs, a quarter (25 percent) of IT professionals indicate that they'd be very concerned about losing their job and a third (32 percent) would have some concerns. A confident 42 percent, however, say they wouldn't be concerned at all about losing their job.

-- Good old-fashioned networking is the best way to find a new IT position. More than a third (35 percent) of IT professionals said that networking with other IT people is the most effective way to land an IT job. Interestingly, despite their implied tech-savvy, only 8 percent said that social media tools like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are most effective for landing an IT job.

More information on IT professionals can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Uncertain Economic Climate Yields Mixed Outlook Among IT Professionals

The latest CDW IT Monitor revealed lower expectations for budget increases and hiring, along with a drop in overall hardware spending. However, increases in software spending and a more optimistic outlook in key sectors, including small business and healthcare IT, brought balance to the broader IT sentiment.
Key findings of the report include:

-- Forty percent of IT decision-makers expect an increase in their overall IT budgets in the next six months, down eight percentage points year over year and the lowest level since October 2009.

-- State and federal government anticipate steady increases in both hardware and software spending during the next six months. The hardware spending outlook grew to 84 and 90 percent for state and federal government IT decision-makers respectively, while the software outlook grew to 82 and 91 percent respectively.

-- Twenty-two percent of small business IT decision-makers anticipate IT budget increases in the next six months, up three percentage points from June.

-- Sixty-six percent of healthcare IT decision-makers expect to spend more on solutions in the next six months, up seven percentage points from June and 21 percentage points from April.

More information on IT can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

65% of IT Pros Expect an Increase in Employee Owned Mobile Devices Accessing Business Data

The pace of mobility change is accelerating. In the 16 months since InformationWeek's last MDM survey, market shares have shifted considerably, fueled by alluring options from consumer-focused vendors Apple and Google, and tablets have shot up in popularity. Nearly 80% of August 2011 respondents say the devices will increase in importance within their organizations in the next 24 months, compared with just 36% saying the same in March 2010.

-- 76% of survey respondents building custom mobile business applications are supporting or will support Apple iOS in development efforts.

-- 58% have standardized on a mobile device platform and carrier selected by IT, vs. 73% in our 2010 poll; that 15-point drop translates to much less control.

-- 57% consider Apple iOS an enterprise-ready platform, compared with 74% saying the same about RIM BlackBerry OS.

--27% currently lack written policies or procedures pertaining specifically to mobile/portable devices or the handling of mobile data.

More information on IT can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nearly One-Fourth of Companies Now Provide Customer Service via Facebook

A new study released today by MarketTools, Inc., a provider of software and services for enterprise feedback management (EFM), revealed that 23 percent of companies provide customer service and support on Facebook, with 12 percent providing customer service and support via Twitter.
The study also revealed that although 34 percent of the executives surveyed stated that they were aware of customers using social media to comment on or complain about their company and its products, less than one-fourth of these executives said that their companies “always” respond to these customers.

The MarketTools study also revealed a disparity in the way companies think and the way they act in regards to customer satisfaction. Although 95 percent of respondents believe that satisfied customers are very important or extremely important to their company, only about one-third (36 percent) have formal voice of the customer (VOC) programs in place to collect and analyze customer feedback. And of those companies with formal VOC programs, nearly half (45 percent) solicit customer feedback on a quarterly or less frequent basis.

Some additional highlights from the study include:

-- 33 percent of executives surveyed said that their companies have a greater focus on using social media as a channel to capture customer feedback when compared to this same time last year.

-- When asked what areas of the company are active in social media, 44 percent of those surveyed cited public relations, 42 percent cited corporate marketing, and product marketing and customer service/support were each cited by 34 percent of the respondents.

-- Of the 68 percent of companies that have an active presence in social media, 48 percent have an active presence on Facebook, 24 percent on Twitter, and 17 percent on their own company blog.

-- 22 percent of those surveyed stated that their company’s CEO regularly participates in social media on behalf of the company. Facebook is the social media channel of choice, used by 68 percent of the CEO’s, followed by 44 percent who participate on the company blog, and 35 percent who participate on Twitter.

More information on customer service and support can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com