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FUDBust: The day of reckoning is coming. All the signs are there: After three straight years of flat or falling corporate IT budgets, experts see a spike of 3 percent to 5 percent next year. (Modest, yes, but it's a start!) Earnings are up at Hewlett-Packard, EMC and SAP. IBM is adding 10,000 jobs. All this holds the promise that innovation will make a comeback in 2004, and IT skills will be in high demand once again.

If you're a manager, reconsider training and the other perks you've been skimping on. If you wait until every company is doing it again, it'll be too late; you'll lose your best talent. If you're a grunter, start making it known--subtly, of course--that you need to be treated better. As we learned during the last IT boom, employers pay up only when they think they might lose you.

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