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VARs to Obama administration: Boost IT spending, confidence

VARs hope the Obama administration's healthcare and energy initiatives will boost business.

IT solution providers of all persuasions welcomed the end of the seemingly endless presidential campaign Wednesday. Their unanimous request for the new administration? Get to work.

Every solution provider that contacted the day after Barack Obama's election mentioned taxes. More specifically, they wanted assurances that there would be no new taxes. And they all said that job No. 1 is to revive the economy -- fast.

"Speaking for myself, the uncertainty is bad," said Charlie Crawford, operations manager for Blackstone & Cullen, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based solution provider. "Congress has put a pot-load of money out there [to rescue big financial services firms]. I don't know how they'll pay for it, and that leads me to taxes."

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What fuels anxiety is that no one is sure how much support -- or resources -- the new president will enjoy.

"It's hard to know, based on what [candidates] say in the campaign, what they will do, and circumstances will force them to do stuff they said they would not do," Crawford said.

Solution providers said that while both Obama and Republican contender John McCain characterized small business as the economy's bedrock, both politicians were more likely to help big companies than the smaller fry. The value-added resellers (VARs) cited the huge financial bailout of AIG and other financial services companies as Exhibit A in that discussion.

Steve Winslow, president of Boston-based Winslow Technology Group LLC, wrote in an email: "Don't raise taxes on the SMB! Offer tax credits for hiring. These actions will foster growth."

Another VAR, who requested anonymity, said his business has suffered mightily in the past year, and the overall IT buying climate remains "awful." The fact that his major vendors, themselves hurt by the economic downturn, have cut back on marketing funds and other partner resources is not helping. His only plea to Washington: "No new taxes."

IT opportunity in Obama administration's healthcare, renewable energy push

Still, some see bright spots on the horizon. Government spending in many agencies is bound to flourish, and Obama's stated plan to revamp the nation's healthcare system would call for spending of $10 billion a year over five years to equip healthcare professionals with new information technology.

That buying power could flow to solution providers and vendors who digitize records and implement new storage, workflow and imaging solutions.

Another solution provider said Obama's support for renewable energy could also boost demand for new technology.

"There are massive IT projects behind renewable energy projects," said Andrew Plato, CEO of Anitian Enterprise Security, a solution provider based in Beaverton, Ore. Anitian helped roll out a big wind farm and implement related Hewlett-Packard infrastructure. "They invested $150,000 in security for this infrastructure," he said. "There was probably another million in IT infrastructure from Cisco."

Plato, of all the VARs contacted, was the least concerned about taxes. Most small business owners don't log more than $250,000 in annual profit, he said. "Obama has promised to keep taxes the same for those with income of $250,000 or below."

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