While at times it seems the most effective way of predicting the future of the IT industry is to consult a fortune teller, research firm IDC believes it has produced a tool which may take some of the mystery out of picking the trends.
IDC's 1997 Forecast for Management statistical database and report gathers together responses to 43 questions from 450 Australian IT managers, detailing their thoughts on outsourced services, adoption of new technology, IT expenditure, staffing levels and so on.
Manager of IDC's user programs Peter Hind said Forecast for Management gives people who have products or services to sell an insight into the intentions of CIOs over the next couple of years.
It breaks down results into categories such as company size, location, industry and so on, so users can determine such things as which industry sectors are going to embrace LAN/WAN switching or Windows 95.
"This is a tough climate to sell in, and so the challenge for people is knowing what they should focus their energies on, and where they are going to get the best returns," said Hind. "Short of interviewing every IT manager in Australia how do you know that?"
Hind said it also gives resellers a sanity check on what vendors are promising. "This gives them a chance to ask what are the projections for this technology - is this a technology that is going to take off? And it will give them an insight into where to invest their resources," Hind said.
"The success of your company almost depends on picking the right winners. And how do you pick the right winners without getting some feedback on where those winners will be?"
This year's survey found that while IT budgets have increased by around 5 per cent, headcount is on the way down. "I think it's a reflection of outsourcing, use of external providers to deliver services," said Hind.
What does the future hold?
More money is being spent in networking, but investment in application development tools is declining.
The survey also found that while only 9 per cent of organisations currently use the Internet for electronic commerce, by the end of next year that figure will increase to 67 per cent.
The Forecast for Management database is available from IDC for $2500, including the high-level report.
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