Conducted during the final days leading to Election 2008, Venture Nashville's quick, nonscientific survey of 104 Nashville IT executives yielded some findings that seem worth pondering.
VNC plans to conduct a similar survey on or about April 1, 2009, to see whether confidence is rising or falling as the U.S government and industry attempt to steer the nation and the world away from the brink of Depression.
The road ahead: In the latest VNC survey, fully 80 percent said they see a "good" or "extremely" strong 2010, while only 58.8 and 59.4 percent, respectively, foresee such strength in 2008 or 2009. Only 2 percent said they see 2010 turning-out to be poor or truly awful.
Looking backward and rating 2008 versus 2007, twice as many people said they see the sector's performance in 2008 being "poor" or "truly awful" (12.8%), versus 6.9% who gave 2007 one of those ratings.
Ranked only by the share of respondents who expressed "Extreme fear," Health insurance costs were essentially in a dead heat with fear about the U.S. economy (8.9 and 8.7 percent, respectively).
Participants who submitted comments along with their survey had clearly been giving the economy and their firms' fates a lot of thought. One respondent mentioned having paid-down corporate debt in the past year, in anticipation of a sharper downturn. Others suggested that IT revenue may suffer if cost-conscious companies opt for open-source software solutions over proprietary goods, and if more onsite U.S. tasks are performed offshore. On the other hand, one executive said containing corporate costs may lead to more outsourcing and greater use of contracted data centers.
Another respondent said Nashville's healthcare IT concentration may help it weather financial tumult, while another respondent wrote about the increasing difficulty of recruiting IT pros from other states, as a result of the real-estate recession, which makes it difficult or impossible for relocating employees to sell their homes.
Regarding the local IT talent pool, opinion seemed roughly split between those who feel local resources are improving or adequate, and those who feel the supply is "spotty" or awful. The numbers: 44.2% of respondents said local availability of skilled IT workers is "Spotty" (41.3%) or "Awful" (2.9%). However, 18.3 percent or respondents said local talent supply is "Good" (15.4%) or Excellent (2.9%"); and, 37.5 percent said the supply is Okay/Improving.
FEAR INDEX: When the percentages of the two most fearful response options ('Extremely' fearful and 'Very Concerned') are combined -- creating a crude confidence rating or "misery index" -- the issues earned the following priorities ('All Averaged' figures were used for rank-ordering):
|Issues & Concerns