Responding to a still sluggish economy, IT executives in North America and Europe are taking a variety of measures to get more value for the money spent on IT services, according to the latest Enterprise IT Services Survey by Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR). According to the survey results, IT contractors and consultants will see the deepest decreases in spending, while systems integration and outsourcing services will have the most increases. The survey of more than 900 IT executives and technology decision-makers in Canada, France, Germany, the UK, and the US offers insights into the decisions large companies are making with regard to their IT services and outsourcing. The survey is part of Forrester’s Business Data Services (BDS) series, which provides an extensive data set for B2B Market Research professionals’ go-to-market strategy assessments.

Unlike during the last recession from 2001 to 2002, when outsourcing and offshoring experienced growth from firms seeking to reduce internal IT costs, the picture for IT services is much more mixed in terms of spending plans. When asked about changes they expect to see in their organization’s total spending on IT services, 30 percent of executives surveyed said they plan to increase spending on systems integration and project work, 26 percent plan increases in applications outsourcing, and 25 percent expect to increase spending on infrastructure outsourcing. However, 41 percent of executives expect to reduce spending on contractors, and 34 percent foresee lower spending on IT consulting.

“As the global economic downturn puts pressure on IT services spending, firms are taking a range of actions to deal with the cuts,” said John McCarthy, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester. “The pressure to reduce IT spending is going to continue well into 2010. The data shows no quick turnaround – it’s going to be a tough year for services firms as clients increasingly ask them to justify the ROI for IT projects and provide more value for a lower price.”

A top-line overview of the full survey responses is available in the report “The State Of Enterprise IT Services: 2009.” Subscribers to Forrester’s Business Data Services receive unlimited data support, including custom segmentation from a dedicated data advisor. Other key highlights of the survey include:

  • Infrastructure outsourcing priorities. When asked what infrastructure services their firm is currently outsourcing or plans to outsource to a third-party company in the next 12 months, survey respondents placed convergent telecommunication/network management services and data center management services at the top of the list.
  • Application outsourcing priorities. Managed hosting services lead the list of application outsourcing priorities, with 44 percent of respondents currently outsourcing and six percent planning to use managed hosting services in the next 12 months. In addition, the outsourcing of packaged applications maintenance and support services increased from 27 percent in 2008 to 38 percent in 2009, and another seven percent of respondents are planning to do so in the next 12 months.
  • Systems integration priorities. Integration work installing or upgrading packaged applications remains a top activity, with 42 percent of respondents saying they already have a project under way or will hire a consultant for this in the next 12 months. Custom application design and development follows, with 38 percent of firms doing a project or hiring a consultant to do so in the next 12 months.
  • IT consulting priorities. Forty-three percent of respondents have a security assessment project either already under way or one that will commence in the next year. Infrastructure virtualization and automation programs follow, with 32 percent of respondents hiring a consultant in the next 12 months or already having a project under way.

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