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IT Business Confidence Rises

IT executives are more upbeat about their business prospects than they have been all year, according to a recent study.

CompTIA, an IT industry association, surveyed 291 executives at US IT companies last month to gauge their opinions on the US economy, the industry, and their own businesses. Their replies pushed the CompTIA IT Industry Business Confidence Index to its highest point for the year, rebounding from a dip in the third quarter.

Tim Herbert, vice president of research and market intelligence at CompTIA, said the results can be attributed to several factors: “Economic growth has been steady, though unremarkable; IT employment remains robust; and the wave of innovation that started several years ago continues to generate strong demand from buyers.”

According to the survey, midsized IT businesses with 100 to 499 employees are the most bullish on their prospects over the next few months. Super-small IT firms with fewer than 10 employees aren't quite as confident in their prospects or the economy overall, a result CompTIA attributed to them possibly being more sensitive to fluctuations in the economy or their customer base.

Despite the general optimism, IT executives are worried about a lot of things that could affect growth, the study showed. Forty-five percent of those polled said they're concerned about price-sensitive customers being hesitant to spend, and 38% worry about downward pressure on their margins due to commoditization and cloud storage pricing wars.

Interestingly, they aren't as worried about things like natural disasters or pandemics. CompTIA's study showed concern over those kinds of "unexpected shocks" actually dropped from 29% to 21%. Apparently, survey participants were undaunted by all the Ebola hype in the US.   

CompTIA noted that the survey, which was conducted in mid-October just before the mid-term elections, doesn't account for whatever sentiment IT executives might have about the election outcomes.

I'm not sure that would have made that much of a difference. I imagine that IT executives might not expect all that much change in the gridlock that plagues Washington these days. However, the ongoing debate over net neutrality and fallout from President Obama's call this week for the FCC to regulate ISPs like public utilities under Title II of the federal Telecommunications Act could alter some outlooks.

Already, AT&T has responded by saying it plans to stop building out its high-speed fiber network until the FCC issues net neutrality rules. And during Cisco's quarterly earnings call on Wednesday, Cisco chairman and CEO John Chambers slammed Obama's proposal, saying it would hinder the expansion of broadband and damage revenues for service providers and their suppliers.

CompTIA publishes its Industry Business Confidence Index at the beginning of each quarter.