I've attended three CIO events in the past month and been greatly surprised at each of them to feel the same mood: calm.It's very possible the mood would be different today, after the knee-buckling drop in stock prices when Congress voted against taking action to prop up the economy. And it's not that these CIOs are comfortable with the state of the economy. They're not.
But what has struck me at each event is how very few CIOs I talk with are taking significant steps to cut IT projects or spending because of slower sales or in anticipation of them. Outside of the financial services industry (and even within it, in some cases), there's a lot of wait-and-see going on, rather than draconian cuts. This includes a couple of CIOs who, earlier in the year, had thought cutbacks or at least significant project freezes a real possibility.
The events were the InformationWeek 500 Conference, where several hundred CIOs met to talk strategy at the St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, Calif.; the Oklahoma IT Symposium in Oklahoma City; and the Indiana IT Symposium in Indianapolis.
Two data points I've seen point to remarkably similar conclusions on IT budget cuts: InformationWeek's State of the Economy survey in July found 40% of companies decreased IT spending relative to their original 2008 budgets, and Forrester Research's survey released early this month found 43% of companies have cut their overall IT budgets in 2008. Forrester recently cut its IT spending growth target for next year, to 6.1% from 9.4%.
Forrester CEO George Colony blogs about similar anecdotal evidence of executives so far planning not to cut their IT budgets and offers CIO best practices for dealing with a recession.
So are these CIOS -- and people like George Colony and me who are listening to them -- properly calm, or desperately out of touch? Reach out here, or contact me directly -- I'd love to hear what you're experiencing.