Not Good News for IT Professionals – Salaries Remain Flat
The 2014 Salary Survey, just released by Janco Associates and eJobDescription.com, is not good news for IT Professionals. The survey shows that hiring and salaries has not significantly improved for IT professionals in most North American metropolitan areas.
Salaries are up less than 1% for IT pros in the past 12 months and the only winners are the top level postions in mid-sized companies. Salaries for most IT pros have finally gotten back to the level they were at in 2007 and that is a very good sign.
The seven major findings of the survey are:
-- IT compensation for all IT Professionals has increased by 0.67% in the last 12 months.
-- CIOs compensation has stayed flat in larger companies and increased in smaller and mid-sized companies in the past 12 months.
-- Positions in highest demand are all associated with the quality control, BYOD implementation, and service level improvement.
-- Over the long term IT executives have fared better in mid-sized companies than large companies.
-- In 2013 the IT job market grew by 74,900 versus 62,500 in 2012 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) – better but not enough to employee the number of IT graduates from US universities or to increase demand.
-- Lay-offs seem to have tapered off, however some companies continue to cut the size of the IT organizations.
-- Cost control is still the rule of the day; however we have seen an increase in the number of "part-timers" and contractors who are focused on particular critical projects. This has resulted in few IT Pros getting health coverage
-- Companies are continuing to refine the benefits provided to full time IT professionals. Though benefits such as health care are available to 80%, IT professionals are now paying a greater portion of that cost.
Contact Center Satisfaction Index Drops 10 Percent in 2013
In its seventh year, CFI Group's Contact Center Satisfaction Index (CCSI), finds customer satisfaction with company contact centers dropped a whopping 10 percent in 2013. With a score of 69 (on a 100 point scale), the 2013 score reflects an eight point pull back from the record high of 77 in 2012.
The only ongoing national study of its kind, the 2013 CCSI collected data from more than 1,500
consumers across six major industries: banking, cell phone service, health insurance, property insurance, retail, and cable or satellite TV.
Beyond basic policies and procedures, CFI Group advances two hypotheses for the large drop coming from the larger world environment. The first is that consumers have low confidence with the economy and government and are generally fatigued as the economy continues to stall, leading to the score backlash. The second is that after years of steady growth in performance, consumers have built an expectation of great service, and contact centers failed to meet it this year.
While overall satisfaction is dropping, the research identified an opportunity for contact centers to increase satisfaction through non-call channels. In 2013, the desire for self-paced or instantaneous service continued to grow. Almost half of respondents indicated their preferred method of contact would be a non-call communication, such as email, chat or via the company's website.
Chat as a preferred customer service tool has remained steady at nearly 10 percent for the past two years. The adoption of chat and its growing preference is evident as 63 percent of this year's respondents indicated that they actively look for the chat function when visiting a company's site.
The CCSI also found that social media is growing as an avenue for customers to share and voice opinions in a community setting and for businesses to conduct damage control. Nearly 40 percent of respondents turned to social media to voice a concern, increasing from 17 percent of respondents in 2012.
Small Businesses More Confident as They Begin 2014
An increased number of small business owners are planning to add more employees and boost compensation levels, signaling a slightly more positive economic outlook for 2014, according to the most recent Business Confidence Survey released by Insperity, Inc., a provider of human resources and business performance solutions for America's best businesses. A solid 50 percent of respondents plan to add employees, a significant increase over 26 percent in October and even up from 40 percent in the July survey; 47 percent are maintaining current staffing levels versus 68 percent last fall; and just over 3 percent are planning layoffs, down from 5 percent in October.
Insperity also announced compensation metrics from its base of 5,500 small and medium-sized Workforce Optimization(R) clients. Average compensation for the fourth quarter 2013 was up 2.9 percent, while bonuses were down 6.9 percent compared to the fourth quarter 2012. Average commissions received by worksite employees reflected an increase of 1.7 percent. Overtime pay was 10.3 percent of regular pay, above the 10 percent level that generally indicates a need for additional employees, and up slightly from 9.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012.
According to the survey, 92 percent of respondents expect to meet or exceed their 2013 performance, up significantly from 68 percent in October, while 8 percent expect to do worse in 2014. Concerning the timing of an economic rebound, 38 percent think one is currently in process versus 26 percent both in October and last July; 24 percent expect a rebound in the second quarter of 2014 or later, and 37 percent are unsure.
list of short-term concerns now points to government health care as the number one issue of 52 percent of survey respondents, followed closely by rising health care costs at 47 percent. The economy was third at 44 percent, down from 67 percent last October, and controlling overall operating costs was 43 percent. Long-term concerns were led by government expansion at 58 percent; the federal deficit tied with potential tax increases at 54 percent; and the economy dropped to 40 percent from last quarter's 63 percent, echoing its sharp decrease as a major short-term concern.
The survey results show that 46 percent plan to increase employee compensation, up significantly from 17 percent in October; 43 percent plan to maintain compensation at current levels, down from 71 percent last fall; 1 percent expect compensation decreases; and 10 percent are unsure.
Software Assets Will Determine Business Success Over The Next 10 Years
Software assets — not financial assets — will be most critical to your brand in the age of the customer, a 20-year business cycle in which the most successful companies will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers, according to a recent Forrester report.
Mobile, big data, the Internet of Things, and digitization have changed the ways customers interact with brands: Customers expect to be able to interact with brands through software. Digital business in this era will be akin in scale and complexity to the ERP re-engineering that took place in the '90s to address Y2K issues. Why? In the age of customer, a good software experience can build trust, capture consumer attention, create unique customer experiences, and make a brand essential.
A bad software experience? "The next 10 years will see more change than any time since Great Depression in the makeup of the Fortune 1000 as some companies figure out the power of software and others do not. Increasing customer expectations fueled by an accelerated pace of technology will increase the delta between the haves and have-nots in term of overall financial performance," writes John McCarthy, author of the report.
According to George Colony, Forrester CEO, in the age of the customer, all companies will be software companies. Your most important assets will not be financial assets, they will be software assets. Software will allow brands to become customer-obsessed: to know what their customers want — and how, when, and where they can meet (and exceed) that expectation.
Emerging Markets Slowdown Continues to Inhibit IT Spending
According to the new International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Black Book, IT spending will be inhibited by the economic slowdown in emerging markets in 2014, in addition to an inevitable deceleration in the growth of smartphones and tablets. IDC has lowered its forecasts for IT market growth in Asia Pacific (including China), Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, driving down its forecast for Worldwide IT spending growth to 4.6% this year in constant currency terms (down from the previous forecast of 5%). With currency devaluation and inflation likely to inhibit business confidence in many emerging economies in the first half of this year, and with the explosive growth of mobile devices having begun to inevitably cool from the breakneck pace of the past 2-3 years, overall industry growth will dip slightly from last year’s pace of 4.8%.
Infrastructure, Software and IT Services are Hot Spots
While overall industry growth has cooled, some areas of tech spending are heating up as businesses in mature economies including the US and Western Europe, begin to invest in overdue infrastructure upgrades and replacements. Spending on servers will increase by 3%, after last year’s decline of 4%, and storage spending will also grow by 3% this year (following a 0.5% decline in 2013). The PC market is showing tentative signs of stabilization, with improving commercial shipments in mature markets. The increased pace of hardware investment will have a positive effect on IT services revenue, which is forecasted to post growth of 4% this year (up from 3% in 2013). Enterprise software spending remains broadly strong, with growth still expected in the range of 6-7%. Excluding mobile phones, IT spending growth will actually accelerate in 2014 from 2.9% last year (excluding phones) to 3.4% this year.
Emerging Markets are Volatile
Exchange rate volatility is likely to exert a strong influence over IT revenues for global suppliers this year (in US dollar terms, the IT market grew by just 2.8% in 2013, compared to 4.8% in constant currency, due to the strength of the dollar). It’s too early to predict whether the dollar will remain strong throughout 2014, but the Fed’s decision to begin tapering its QE program will clearly exert a strong influence in the first half of the year. Not only will this create volatility for IT vendors during earnings season, but it may also create economic instability in key emerging markets.
Despite the pickup in mature economies, there are still significant inhibitors that will mean that IT spending growth remains moderate by historical standards. Cannibalization remains a broad trend, impacting everything from PCs (tablets) to software and services (Cloud) and ensuring major disruption for individual vendors. Price erosion and commoditization in hardware have spread to mobile devices. While showing signs of bottoming out, the PC market continues to post year-on-year declines in revenue terms, and telecom infrastructure investment remains tepid in many countries as carriers compete for a more mature customer base.
Underlying Fundamentals Have Improved
Nevertheless, in spite of this ongoing cannibalization and economic uncertainty, IT market fundamentals are more solid this year than 12 months ago. There is now significant pent-up demand for new servers, storage capacity and network equipment, and this is trickling through to increases in IT services revenue. Enterprise enthusiasm for new software built around the key 3rd platform solutions of Mobility, Cloud, Big Data and Social, remains strong. Consumer enthusiasm for mobile devices and applications remains positive, even though the market has inevitably cooled.