Gartner: IT hiring freezes, staffing cuts ahead

Information technology managers heard a parade of grim messages and recommendations about the Wall Street meltdown yesterday from Gartner analysts during the opening session of the firm's Symposium/ITxpo 2008 conference in Orlando, Fla., reports Computerworld.
The only piece of advice about the economic situation that drew a hearty laugh from the IT managers in the crowd was this: "Don't buy junk."

The No. 1 item on Gartner's list of what IT execs have to prepare for was the worst of all, from a manager's standpoint: hiring freezes and possibly even layoffs. It was a somber message for the 6,000 attendees at the conference.

"The next big thing in IT is not a technology ? it is cost reduction, risk management and compliance," said Peter Sondergaard, Gartner's global head of research.

Gartner, which said in a report late last month that it didn't expect a recession in tech spending, now is forecasting that overall spending will grow 3 per cent year over year during the current quarter and then increase 2.3 percent next year ? a reduction from its previous projections. And the consulting firm isn't ruling out IT budget cuts as deep as 20 percent at some businesses. "This is no downturn; this is a crisis," Gartner analyst Whit Andrews said.

But what does all this bad economic news mean, exactly? Other than Gartner's somber outlook on possible staffing actions, much of the advice dispensed here was familiar, and some of it has long been on the radar of many IT managers who were in attendance. And it has always been true that companies want to cut costs as well as expand their technical capabilities.

Gartner analysts underscored the need to virtualize systems. They also predicted that software-as-a-service will be a major trend.

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