Providing Technical Support

In business, as in life, contradictions abound — and seeming contradictions can live together happily. At first glance, the two technology stories in this issue, our cover feature on wireless warehouses and the article on shipment tracking, espouse apparently incompatible points of view: Buy the latest technology, but you may not always need to use it.

As it turns out, IT execs are doing something like this in real life. “Benchmark North America: The Big Picture,” Forrester Research Inc.’s comprehensive study of IT spending in 2003, analyzes the responses of 877 technology decision-makers to probing questions about what technology they plan to purchase and how it meshes with their corporate goals. Although the market is slated to grow only 1.9% this year, slowing from 2.3% growth in 2002, respondents aren’t necessarily conservative about the IT products and services they buy. What’s important to them is that the programs — whether traditional or cutting-edge — help cut costs, retain customers, and solve systems integration problems. Twenty-seven percent of survey respondents (double last year’s number) plan to buy supply chain management software this year; about one-third cite disconnected systems as their main obstacle to eliminate, and 36% — including a significant proportion of high-tech and wholesale distributors — plan to buy enterprise integration software. And remember to set aside money for what the Forrester report calls “the hottest ticket of 2003”: protecting infrastructure assets and the data they store. An overwhelming 60% of respondents say they will buy disaster recovery products and services this year.

Top Problems to Fix

% of respondents
Workforce inefficiencies 34%
IT project performance 31%
Disconnected systems 31%
Unused software licenses 20%
Installed but useless apps 19%
Source: Forrester Research Inc.

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