negotiationAnticipated increases in 2014 IT budgets haven’t materialized, casting doubts in the minds of IT leaders as to their organizations’ ability to meet business demands, says IT staffing provider TEKsystems. On the positive side, results of a TEKsystems survey of over 200 IT executives indicates IT leaders believe they have a firm handle on the IT trends that are having the greatest impact on their organizations, and they expect hiring to increase.

According to the IT survey, hiring for both full-time and temporary workers increased in this year’s 3Q, “indicating firms are likely staffing up to make a last push at fulfilling important business initiatives,” according to TEKsystems’ quarterly IT “Reality Check,” which compares actual conditions with forecasts made in November 2013 as part of TEKsystems’ “Annual IT Forecast.”

IT security and mobility risk consistently ranked as the IT trends with the most impact, according to TEKsystems:

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  • Throughout the first half of 2014, business intelligence (BI) / Big Data, security, mobility and cloud computing ranked in the top five initiatives having the largest impact on organizations. In reality, mobility—originally forecast to be the No. 3 most impactful initiative—has been named the No. 1 impact area for three straight quarters. Security—originally forecast to be the No. 2 most impactful initiative—has indeed been named the No. 2 most impactful area for all three quarters. Cloud computing has ranked either No. 3 or No. 4, while BI / Big Data has seen the most fluctuation—originally forecast to be No. 1, this impact area has consistently been named No. 3 or No. 4;
  • Since the beginning of 2014, VoIP / Unified Communications (UC), open source and gamification have ranked as the least impactful initiatives. VoIP/UC has ranked No. 8 or No. 9, open source has ranked No. 10 or No. 11 and gamification has ranked last at No. 12;
  • The initiatives that fluctuated the most in terms of impact were social networking (ranking between No. 5 and No. 10), bring your own device (BYOD)/consumerization of IT, which consistently moved up throughout the year (ranking between No. 5 and No. 10), and data center consolidation, which dipped lower throughout the year (ranking between No. 6 and No. 11).

Budgets Disappoint
Anticipated increases in IT budgets have yet to materialize, TEKsystems found:

  • Heading into 2014, 62 percent of IT leaders expected their IT budgets to increase. Through the first three-quarters of the year, the percentage of IT leaders who experienced increases never rose above 47 percent. At the end of March and June, only 47 percent had seen increases, while at the end of September, 46 percent reported their budgets had increased;
  • Heading into 2014, 26 percent of IT leaders expected their budgets to stay the same. Since the beginning of the year, this has steadily hovered at an average of 38 percent. Sequentially, the percentage of IT leaders who reported their budgets had actually remained the same was 38 percent (end of March), 37 percent (end of June) and 39 percent (end of September);
  • Heading into 2014, 12 percent of IT leaders expected their budgets to decrease. Through the first three-quarters of the year, the percentage of IT leaders who experienced decreases was higher than anticipated. Sequentially, the percentage of IT leaders who reported their budgets had actually decreased were 15 percent (end of March), 16 percent (end of June) and 15 percent (end of September);
  • Findings: Budgets have not met the originally anticipated increased levels. Sixteen percent of IT leaders who originally anticipated increases now report they expect their budgets to stay the same (up 13 percent) or decrease (up 3 percent).

TEKsystems also found that IT execs are losing confidence in their organizations’ ability to meet business demands:

  • Heading into 2014, 66 percent of IT leaders were confident in their IT department’s ability to satisfy business demands. Through the first three-quarters of the year, the percentage of IT leaders who expressed confidence was higher than forecast, but has recently come closer to original levels. At the end of March, 72 percent expressed confidence, while 73 percent expressed the same at the end of June, but this fell to 69 percent by the end of September;
  • Heading into 2014, 28 percent of IT leaders expressed a neutral view toward their IT department’s ability to satisfy business demands. At the end of March, 15 percent were neutral, 14 percent at the end of June, and 11 percent at the end of September;
  • Heading into 2014, 6 percent of IT leaders lacked confidence in their IT department’s ability to satisfy business demands. At the end of March and June, 13 percent lacked confidence, but by the end of September the number had risen to 20 percent;
  • Findings: The persistence of lower budgets seems to have finally impacted IT leaders’ confidence in their ability to satisfy business demands. Over the course of the year there has been a decline in those who expressed confidence (-3 percent) and those who were neutral (-4 percent) and an increase in those who were not confident (+7 percent). In addition to never receiving increased budgets in order to complete workloads, reasons for this decline in confidence could be attributed to the realization that time is running out to complete planned projects or that additional IT projects have been scheduled for the remainder of the year.

IT Hiring Trends
Systems architects and developers continue to be most difficult positions to fill, while project managers joined the ranks of most-difficult-to-fill positions:

  • Only two skill-sets—developers and architects—placed consistently in the top five most difficult positions to fill with exceptional talent through three-quarters of 2014. Programming and application development has ranked anywhere from No. 1 to No. 4, and architects have ranked anywhere from No. 1 to No. 5;
  • Help desk / technical support, cloud and social media have consistently been the least difficult roles to fill with exceptional talent. In terms of difficulty in filling positions, help desk / technical support remained the eighth most difficult position to secure, while cloud has ranked from No. 7 to No. 10 most difficult, and social media has remained the least difficult position to fill;
  • The positions that fluctuated the most in terms of difficulty of finding exceptional talent were software engineers, project managers, and BI / Big Data. The project manager role has seen a steady increase from No. 10 most difficult to hire (end of March) to No. 5 (end of June) to No. 1 (end of September).

Nonetheless, full-time IT headcount is trending upwards, according to TEKsystems:

  • Heading into 2014, 47 percent of IT leaders expected increases in full-time hiring. Sequentially, the percentage of IT leaders who reported increases in full-time hiring were 35 percent (end of March), 31 percent (end of June) and 37 percent (end of September), indicating an increase since the mid-year decrease;
  • Heading into 2014, 44 percent of IT leaders expected full-time hiring to stay the same as in 2013. Sequentially, the percentage of IT leaders who reported flat levels of full-time hiring were 56 percent (end of March), 56 percent (end of June) and 52 percent (end of September);
  • Heading into 2014, 9 percent of IT leaders expected full-time hiring to decrease. Sequentially, the percentage of IT leaders who reported full-time hiring had decreased were 9 percent (end of March), 13 percent (end of June) and 11 percent (end of September);
  • Findings: Expectations for hiring full-time employees is on the rise. Since midyear, an additional 6 percent of IT leaders expect increases in full-time hiring, while those who expected full-time hiring to stay the same decreased 4 percent and those who expected it to decrease dropped 2 percent.

Temporary Hiring Up
TEKsystems also found that temporary, or contingent, hiring is also rising:

  •  Heading into 2014, 46 percent of IT leaders expected an increase in temporary hiring. Sequentially, the percentage of IT leaders who reported increases in temporary hiring were 35 percent (end of March), 37 percent (end of June) and 42 percent (end of September), indicating a steady increase;
  • Heading into 2014, 43 percent of IT leaders expected temporary hiring to stay the same as 2013. Sequentially, the percentage of IT leaders who reported flat levels of temporary hiring were 54 percent (end of March), 54 percent (end of June) and 50 percent (end of September);
  • Heading into 2014, 11 percent of IT leaders expected temporary hiring to decrease. Sequentially, the percentage of IT leaders who reported temporary hiring had decreased were 11 percent (end of March), 9 percent (end of June) and 8 percent (end of September);
  • Findings: Throughout the year the hiring of temporary workers has increased, coming closer to the percentage of IT leaders who originally forecast increases in this area. Since the beginning of the year, an additional 7 percent of IT leaders expect increases in temporary hiring, while those who expected temporary hiring to stay the same decreased 4 percent and those who expected it to decrease dropped 3 percent.

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