A new survey of Irish ICT professionals indicates a sharp rise in confidence and optimism about the business outlook for 2004.
In the poll of 440 members of the ICT industry conducted by the organisers of the annual ICT Expo trade show, some 80pc of respondents claimed to be ‘very confident’ or ‘confident’ about their organisation’s prospects – up from 74pc last year – while 70pc expected their organisation’s revenue to increase (up from 63pc), with most expecting growth to be between 5 and 10pc. The majority of respondents (52pc) also expected their organisation’s ICT spending to increase: just 37pc predicted this in the previous survey.
Almost half of respondents (45pc) currently outsource their ICT activities with a quarter of respondents expecting outsourcing spend to increase while 61pc expect no change. Just over a quarter (26pc) of respondents plan to hire new IT staff while 64pc predict no change.
For the second year running, respondents felt that unbundling of the local loop should be the Government’s highest priority in its efforts to support the ICT industry, while a whopping 71pc declared no faith in current Government policy in supporting investment in their organisation’s growth.
The poll also revealed that e-security continued to be a priority for technology firms. Some 69pc of respondents confirmed that spam mail and viruses were having a visible impact on the efficiency of their organisation’s IT infrastructure and 79pc of companies had increased their internet security spending in the last 12 months.
Looking ahead to 2004, companies identified the following factors which could inhibit market growth: lack of market confidence (28pc); lack of customer demand (22pc); difficulty in raising finance (15pc), management commitment to ICT spend, lack of skilled workforce (12pc) and a lack of broadband.
In terms of spending, the priority area for ICT spending will be broadband and communications infrastructure, cited by 56pc of all respondents (56pc), followed by software licensing (49pc) and training (47pc), servers (45pc) and security (44pc). The areas showing the lowest priority include utility computing, print management and CRM.
Finally, IT decision makers continue to look for the best value around: 84pc would switch to an alternative network provider if it could reduce their organisation’s voice and data traffic costs.
By Brian Skelly