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CompTIA: IT industry business confidence dips in Q2

CompTIA's business confidence index saw a slight decline in Q2, but most companies surveyed say they are on track to meet their 2016 revenue objectives.

Confidence in the IT sector took a slight dip in CompTIA's second-quarter survey of IT executives and professionals.

CompTIA's IT Industry Business Confidence Index, released this week, dropped 0.9 points to 63.1 on a 100-point scale. The index had seen gains in the prior two quarters. The second-quarter 2016 reading was based on an online survey of 277 IT companies and administered in early April. The survey polled a range of IT firms including hardware and software vendors as well as channel companies.

The survey results suggest that stock market volatility earlier this year and other factors such as concerns over consumer spending could be on the minds of IT industry business personnel. Tim Herbert, senior vice president for research and market intelligence at CompTIA, said the organization will wait to see what subsequent quarters bring before making the determination that the Q2 data is something other than a blip.

The pool of tech talent is not as deep as many companies would like.
Tim Herbert, senior vice president for research and market intelligence, CompTIA

Recent research suggests some softness in IT spending. Research firm Techaisle earlier this week predicted a 2% decline in 2016 IT spending among businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Also this week, IDC reported "minimal" first-quarter growth in worldwide smartphone shipments, citing "strong smartphone saturation in developed nations."

That said, Herbert pointed to survey results that reflect optimism over IT industry business conditions. CompTIA's research found that 75% of companies indicate they are "on target or tracking ahead" of their 2016 revenue objectives.

Herbert noted that IT services companies, in particular, continue to see strong demand. He said the story, however, may be different for legacy value-added resellers or vendors depending on hardware sales. Herbert also noted healthy demand for services among small and medium-sized business (SMB) customers who are modernizing and upgrading legacy, paper-based business processes such as contracts and invoicing.

Workforce issues

Workforce issues, meanwhile, continue as an IT industry theme, with most companies in the CompTIA survey citing a challenging hiring environment. Nearly half of the respondents said they are understaffed to some degree and another 30% said they are fully staffed but hoping to hire workers with an eye toward expansion.

Herbert said IT companies aiming to seize opportunities in areas such as cloud computing and the Internet of Things "need to hire for a somewhat niche skill set" and may have difficulty finding talent depending on the local labor market. In addition, companies that seek to hire people with vertical market expertise will find this requirement further narrows the field of candidates, he said.

"The pool of tech talent is not as deep as many companies would like," Herbert said.

IT channel news roundup for the week of April 25

  • Cloud services provider dinCloud rolled out a remote desktop services offering as part of its line of hosted workspace products. The new product, dinRDS, is compatible with the Google Chrome browser; HTML; and Microsoft Windows, Android, Mac and Linux operating systems.
  • Comstor unveiled a service that lets Cisco partners identify security vulnerabilities at the network and host levels. The distributor's Proof-of-Value (POV) assessment services, marketed as POV+, use Cisco's Firepower technology.
  • WatchGuard Technologies Inc. launched a partner program to encourage companies to integrate their products with WatchGuard's network security products. The Technology Partner Program, which operates under the WatchGuardONE Partner Ecosystem umbrella, offers Silver, Gold and Platinum partnership levels.

Next Steps

Read about CompTIA's report on the channel and IT security offerings

See coverage of CompTIA's 2016 Annual Members Meeting

Learn more about CompTIA's program for business best practices

Dig Deeper on Traditional and emerging business partner models

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Are you expecting to see steady, rising or declining customer demand over the next couple of quarters?
The problem is that eventually this doubt becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think everyone has a case of PTSD after the last recession. That said, it's unusual for recoveries to last as long as this one's lasted, and especially depending on the results of the November election, next year could be...interesting.
Thanks for your feedback, Sharon. The signals are pretty mixed at this point, so it's hard to say with any certainty which directions things are going. IT security, compliance support and other IT services, in general, seem to be doing well. The end-user device market appears weak at the moment. And the smallest of the SMBs (50 and fewer employees) may be spending less this year on IT, while moderate IT spending growth is forecast for mid-sized companies, according to Techaisle.
When you say "end user device," do you mean computers? laptops? tablets? smartphones?