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Get Out Your Checkbooks, The IT Recovery Is Here

Analysts from the research firm IDC say the IT economy will grow faster than the overall economy this year as the recovery from the recession builds. IDC forecasts information technology spending to grow by about 3 percent in 2010, modest by historical standards, but 1.5 times faster than the growth in the overall economy, said Stephen Minton, vice president of IT markets and strategies for IDC. Minton was one of a number of IDC experts who spoke Wednesday at the IDC Directions 2010 conference in Santa Clara, at which the Boston-based research firm shared its research on a wide range of IT topics.

Minton compared the impact of the recession on IT in the current downturn to the previous recession that began in 2001. The current recession had nothing to do with IT and more to do with the financial industry crisis, while the 2001 recession was all about IT. That recession began with the bursting of the dot-com bubble, the decline of the tech-heavy NASDAQ stock market and was compounded by the shock to the economy after 9/11.

The 2001 recession was relatively mild overall, but it was tough on tech, he continued, while the current recession was deeper overall, though less so for tech. While IT spending dropped by 5 percent in 2009, the economy grew in the fourth quarter, indicating recovery is on its way. IDC forecasts IT spending to grow by between 5 percent and 6 percent over the next five years.

As IT budgets were squeezed in the last few years, businesses and other enterprises were forced to consider cost-saving strategies they had not embraced before, he said, such as subscribing to software-as-a-service offerings or doing cloud computing. Reservations they had about security, reliability and access to their data by such outsourcing had to be accepted in favor of saving money.

The recovery presents an opportunity for businesses that use IT to invest in technology that manages and studies the vast amount of information coming into an organization in order to benefit the company and make it more competitive, Minton said. He noted that the I in CIO stands for information. "The opportunity for the CIO is that they really need to make themselves more important to the organization and the way they can do that is by helping the company extract the value of all that data," Minton said.

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