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IT Managers Are Down On Economy, Up On IT Investments

Business technology managers can be a fickle lot. Though their optimism about near-term economic prospects wanes, they're confident about the outlook of their own companies and investments in IT.

InformationWeek's quarterly IT Confidence Index fell 7.6% this past quarter, after two quarterly gains. Perhaps spring fever plays a role: Since we began tracking the mood of business technologists in 2001, three of the five quarters ending in June have seen IT confidence fall.

Only 44% of IT managers feel positive about the U.S. economy's prospects this summer, down from 50% a year earlier. But 61% of our respondents are upbeat about their own companies' prospects over the next three months. Nearly half feel good about their companies' IT budgets and spending plans for the next three months, up 10 points from a year earlier, and 58% show a positive attitude toward their IT project starts and initiatives this summer, a four-point rise.

IT Confidence IndexJohn Logan, IT director at AngioDynamics, sees strong growth for the company, which makes noninvasive surgical devices, as aging baby boomers require more medical procedures but opt for less-intrusive surgeries. "It's not that I'm not positive about the economy, but I don't feel as positive about it as I do about the growth of my business," Logan says. That translates to healthy investments in IT: AngioDynamics is putting money into getting more functionality out of an SAP ERP system it implemented last year, including automating inventory.

John Wade, VP and CIO at Saint Luke's Health System, sees the Iraq war as weakening the economy at a time when health care costs as a percentage of the gross domestic product have reached 16% and continue to grow. But that doesn't stop Saint Luke's from trying to curb health care costs through IT. Says Wade, "We recognize the importance of technology as an investment."