The theme song of computer industry shows in 1999 and early 2000 could have started with the words, "Hey, big spender!" In 2001's slumping economy, however, the tune has changed. Or, has it? IT professionals attending Oracle OpenWorld 2001 in San Francisco agree that the free-spending days are gone. On the other hand, they told searchWindowsManageability that the big IT budget cuts many expected just haven't materialized...not yet, anyway.
"It's not buy, buy, buy anymore," said Lillian Jackson, financial application administrator for Metropolitan Transit Authority in Houston, TX. "But there are no restrictions on buying the necessary things. At least, there haven't been any cuts, so far."
There haven't been "any big IT budget cuts" at NetCom GSM, a European wireless company, according to Jorunn Glenjen, program development manager for the Telenor, Norway division. "We're investing in new technologies, mostly related to data warehousing," she said.
It's "steady as she goes" for corporations such as Allstate Insurance Co. and International Paper, according to database administrators.
Some consultants working for Allstate have been laid off, said Tom Jacobson, a Chicago-based database administrator for the insurance company. "Things have remained stable environment for regular employees," he said. "The IT budget hasn't been cut. It's looking optimistic for next year."
International Paper's IT needs are expanding rapidly. "We haven't had any IT budget cutbacks," said Sonny Mounicou, database administrator for International Paper in Memphis, TN. "It's generally understood that the company needs new technologies to remain competitive."
The future probably does hold IT budget cuts for the Air Resources Control Board in El Monte, CA. "We're still moving ahead with the technology upgrades we've planned," said Robin Lang, manager of information systems department for the state agency. "We've been told that we'd better do what we need to do now, because cuts are probably coming in six months."
In general, organizations of all kinds recognize that IT technology is a necessity, not a luxury, according to OpenWorld attendees. For that reason, companies are loath to make drastic cuts in IT budgets. Then again, there is top-down pressure to get the most out of existing technologies. "Our systems are expected to produce results," said Jackson.
Economizing is on IT managers' minds, even if their IT budgets haven't been downsized dramatically. "The game has changed," said Gary Bloom, CEO of Mountain View, CA-based storage vendor VERITAS Software Corp. The general feeling is that "it's not fashionable for IT people to go their boss and say, 'Look what a good job I've done spending all of my budget.'"