The health of the US tech sector continues to rebound from the recession of 2001-2003, according to the inaugural Forrester/ITAA US Tech Sector Index announced today. Developed by Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) and the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), the Index reveals that IT employment, US IT spending, and US IT vendor profits and revenues are generally healthy and growing. The new quarterly benchmark is the most comprehensive measure of the tech economy available and is based on 11 measures of IT demand, supply, and the strength of US-based IT providers.
“Until now, no one has been able to definitively answer the question, ‘How is the tech industry doing?’,” said Harris N. Miller, president of ITAA. “Although IT is one of the major drivers of the US economy, no single comprehensive measure of the health of the sector existed in the same way that the US Consumer Confidence report tracks consumer spending. In order to provide vendors, customers, economists, and end users with a barometer of the IT industry, we joined forces with Forrester Research. The result is an intuitive graphical index and brief that presents an industry that’s economically healthy, based on a variety of factors. The Forrester/ITAA Index indicates a stable industry that should be attractive to IT customers and career planners alike.”
“The Forrester/ITAA US Tech Sector Index provides not only a detailed look at the current health of the tech economy, but also a look at what’s ahead,” said George F. Colony, chairman of the board and CEO of Forrester Research. “The Index reveals a continuing saw-toothed pattern, which further supports Forrester’s findings that the tech economy is not yet in a period of strong steady growth. In the near term, the new data points to both moderate increases and declines over the coming year. Don’t weep for the US tech sector, but don’t break out the champagne either. Save it for 2008.”
Q3 2005 Results
While Q3 2005 is the first published Index, Forrester compiled historical data to provide a baseline and reveal trends occurring after the low point of the recession in 2002. All 11 indices are weighed evenly in the overall index score, using a 2002 quarterly average of 100 points as the baseline.
In Q3, the Index rose 3.9 points above the second quarter to 121.6, which nearly matches a three-year high of 122.3 in Q4 2004. Strong gains in CIO confidence about the health of their budgets and future spending prospects largely bolstered the overall index. Increases in both US tech vendor revenues and the Dow Jones US Technology Sector Index Fund, which broadly measures the stock price performance of the US tech sector, also contributed. Highlights of the indices’ performance follows:
Demand Indices Rise With Growing CIO Confidence
Demand forces including CIO spending outlooks, US technology exports and US revenues of 39 large IT vendors, recorded the biggest growth — 8.5 points — and were a primary driver of the third quarter’s increase in the overall Index. Forrester’s outlook for business investment in IT was the only measure in the Index to fall, due to expectations that IT spending in Q4 will be less than what was reported in Q3.
Supply Indices Recede But Come In Ahead Of Expectations
Supply indices, including the health of venture capital (VC) funding, IT employment, and US technology exports, dropped 0.6 points. However, the group’s decline this quarter was much smaller than those in recent memory, which may point to an overall strengthening in new technology funding.
- IT industry employment continued to rise, reaching its highest level since Q1 2003 with the addition of 15,500 new jobs.
- Although VC investment was down, similar drops have occurred in each third quarter of the past three years.
- The supply index has hovered around 100 since late 2003, indicating that demand for IT goods and services in the US is stronger than supply. Technology imports and offshore services make up much of the gap.
Revenues And Valuations Bolster Firm Strength Indices
These indices measure the overall strength of US IT companies based on the profits and global revenues of the 22 large US-based vendors, IT prices and stock prices. Although they rose 2.6 points together, the individual numbers were mixed in Q3.
- Revenues rose, with North American revenues continuing to be strongest, European revenue growth slowing, and Asia Pacific revenue picking up.
- Prices declined in Q3 and will continue to decline due in part to the constantly improving hardware price/performance ratios.
While these numbers are generally strong, Forrester expects the Index to fluctuate in 2006, bringing a mild downturn in 2007. The lower-than-projected business IT spending numbers in Q3, coupled with Forrester’s Business Technographics® November 2005 North American And European Enterprise IT Budgets And Spending Survey, point to a softening of the tech sector ahead. In addition, early readouts of CIO confidence suggest a slight drop in Q4. However, 2008 will bring with it the next wave of tech innovation and heavy IT investment.
The complete analysis and more information about the methodology behind the Index can be found in the report, “Forrester/ITAA US Tech Sector Index: Q3 2005.” This report is available to Forrester WholeView 2™ clients at www.forrester.com. The quarterly Index graphic is complimentary and can be accessed at www.itaa.org.
The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) provides global public policy, business networking, and national leadership to promote the continued rapid growth of the IT industry. ITAA consists of over 350 corporate members throughout the US, and a global network of 67 countries’ IT associations. The Association plays the leading role in issues of IT industry concern including information security, taxes and finance policy, digital intellectual property protection, telecommunications competition, workforce and education, immigration, online privacy and consumer protection, government IT procurement, human resources and e-commerce policy. ITAA members range from the smallest IT start-ups to industry leaders in the Internet, software, IT services, ASP, digital content, systems integration, telecommunications, and enterprise solution fields. For more information visit www.itaa.org.