Australian industry optimism at its highest since 2001

IDC report says business priorities are changing

The level of optimism in Australia's IT industry is at its highest since 2001, according to IDC's Market Sentiment Monitor survey released last week.

The industry analyst found positive sentiment toward the economic climate is at its highest since the survey was first conducted in October 2001.

IDC market analyst Michael Sager says the research, which covers companies with more than 100 employees, identified a shift in business priorities with organisations earmarking customer service and improvements to infrastructure and productivity as the two most important priorities for the next six months.

"The increased focus on improving customer service is an encouraging sign. It shows that local companies are once again looking externally to service their customers," Sager says.

IT budgets continue to remain positive, but dynamics of that spending have changed over the last few years.

"The return on investment and linkages to corporate strategy and how it relates to the bottom line are of most importance," Sager says.

IT managers readily agreed with IDC's assessment with WoltersKluwer integration services manager Stef Savannah claiming pent-up demand is finally being unleashed.

"Over the last few years there has been a slowdown in IT spending, and it's caused a backlog in a lot of companies when it comes to projects," he says.

"There just comes a point when you can't hold back any more, but after being stung you're more cautious when it comes to spending."

As for Savannah's business priorities, customer service is the most important.

"Traditionally we've been focused on our product, but its getting harder to maintain customers with just prestige; there's been a culture shift where customer service is more highly valued," Savannah says.

New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service senior IT officer Sudershan Goyal says optimism is increasing, but not necessarily spending.

Budgets, he says, are still tight.

However, Salvation Army IT manager David Weir says there has been no notable rise in optimism.

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