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Still much gnashing of teeth about the economy

Thought y’all could use a bit of non-Microsoft news this week. (No offense, Barb.) In any event, there are two new research tidbits out from CompTIA that relate to our national obsession: the economy.

The first is sorta reflective and is meant to gauge how IT solution providers have dealt with the economic downturn, “Weathering the Recession: How Solution Providers Coped.” The survey, which is free to CompTIA members, was conducted in conjunction with ChannelForce.

Most of them (72 percent) spent just as much face time with customer prospects as they did before the recession, but 65 percent cut back on their use of sales and marketing campaigns.

There was a shift by some to create more predictable recurring maintenance, subscription and managed services revenue streams. I was also thrilled to hear that many IT solution providers avoided layoffs (only 23 percent were forced to reduce staffing).

The not-so-great news is that many managed service providers, VARs and resellers are not all that optimistic about a big turnaround anytime soon. (No percentages were given here, so these seems like maybe some qualitative commentary that was gathered during the survey process.)

This last data point sort of contradicts the latest CompTIA IT Industry Business Confidence Index, which suggested that about 60 percent of IT firms expect their revenue for the second half of 2010 to either “significantly” or “moderately” exceed revenue for the first half. The index WAS off slightly for June, compared with the March quarter. Here’s a general observations from Tim Herbert, who is vice president of research for CompTIA:

“IT industry executives remain relatively confident about the tech sector and about their firm’s prospects, but concerns over the health of the U.S. economy persists. In some ways, the results point to a ‘two steps forward, one step back’ mentality, where positive news and momentum are followed by unexpected bad news and a renewed sense of negativity about economic conditions.”

Guess you could say people are still very spooked, and the smaller the firm, the bigger the spooked factor.

The index reflects opinions about the U.S. economy, opinions from within the IT industry, and opinions about one’s own employer. The latest surveyed covered 306 U.S. information technology companies, and it was conducted in mid-June.

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