IT spending is faring better than the overall economy, and the sector "will avoid a recession in 2008," says Gartner. But in a report sent to clients this week, the analyst firm says it believes IT budgets will show "very low year-over-year growth rates until business growth significantly improves."
Gartner and Forrester Research do not see tech spending traveling into negative territory, but the words "slow" and "slowdown" are used often enough in their reports to get the message across about what's ahead. Forrester released its forecast last week.
But Gartner is nonetheless advising clients to hedge a little and not assume that the economy won't improve next year. It's recommending that IT managers prepare two budgets: one budget "based on guidelines and directions of senior executives," as well as a "growth budget for 2009 in the event that healthier economic growth rates begin to return next year."
Gartner said overall U.S. economic growth and IT growth were moving at two different speeds and the tech industry may be "even more resilient than we had originally imagined."
In the Gartner report, analysts Ken McGee and Mark McDonald cite government data, results of a survey of about 1,000 CIOs, and recent quarterly reports from top vendors to reaffirm an assessment made earlier this year that IT spending won't turn negative. Tech stocks have taken a beating on Wall Street but have recovered some this week.
Gartner notes in the report that after the last recession, U.S. IT budgets grew slowly. But it said that "executives should not blindly follow history and automatically cut IT costs in 2009 until they are certain that IT's current counter economic trend-performance isn't being contributed to, in part, by their competitors."
In a Sept. 24 report, Forrester said technology purchases were stronger in the first half of 2008 than its projections, but that it was cautious nonetheless. "The U.S. recession and the resulting tech market slowdown have only been delayed, not cancelled," the report says.