IT Execs See Security Driving Recovery

A majority of New York-area information technology executives believe the region’s economy is still in recession but think security and disaster recovery products will help drive the IT industry’s recovery, according to a new survey by The New York Times Job Market.

In a recent poll of more than 160 IT chief executives and senior level managers conducted for the newspaper’s recruiting and job listings division, 80 percent said the recession is not over for the metropolitan region. That includes Westchester County, northern New Jersey, parts of Connecticut and Long Island.

As to when they expect to see growth return, the results were mixed: Forty-two percent said they don’t expect any growth in the sector until 2003.

But when asked to assess the strengths of the region’s IT industry, 61 percent pointed to security and disaster recovery products as extremely or very strong right now. The next two responses were roughly split: 49 percent pointed to database management as a strength and 48 percent cited broadband communications.

Of these segments, 47 percent of the executives polled said only security and disaster recovery products and services would help drive the metro IT industry expansion once the economy starts to recover. Twenty-seven percent said broadband communications would be a factor. Only 38 percent of the group saw the region’s legacy of database management giving way to wireless communications as a future growth driver, while 24 percent cited application service providers.

In a clear reflection of the number of IT skilled employees that are now looking for the work as a result of the technology recession, 80 percent of the executives named the vast talent pool of the region as its strongest underpinnings.

The next-highest response was the region’s entrepreneurial culture (72 percent), and intellectual capital (65 percent). Close to half of the survey pool (49 percent) said venture capital was a strong base in the region, while 46 percent named research and development as a factor.

Those looking to hire in the second half of the year said the most desirable skills they are looking for were software programmers (42 percent), followed by project managers (35 percent), client/server developers (27 percent) and database administrators (25 percent).

As a result of the attitudes about the region’s talent pool, close to three-quarters, or 73 percent of the IT executives surveyed said they would not look elsewhere in recruiting talent in the second half of this year — but were equally split on whether they preferred hiring senior-level or junior-level talent.

Of the 50 percent in the survey that preferred to hire junior-level IT employees, 75 percent said so because they believe junior-level employees tend to be trainable in other areas. Fifty-eight percent saw the younger set as more cost-effective. But only 36 percent of the younger-leaning attitudes saw junior-level IT employees as more loyal than senior staff.

Because of the rapidly changing nature of the IT industry, 94 percent of the executives cited an ability to work as a team member as the most desirable trait in IT workers (beyond their tech skills). Eight-five percent of the executives cited both analytical thinking and communication skills as most desirable, followed by 81 percent who wanted to see creative thinking.

If the government is trying to help spur capital investments, few executives in the poll noticed. Only 33 percent said government efforts were helping, and 22 percent said government tax incentives were helping the metro region’s IT industry.

As to whether the executives think Silicon Alley as a term or region is dead, 79 percent of the survey said no. And although most think the New York IT region is weak right now, there was no majority on strength among other high-tech regions in the country either.

When asked which IT region of the country was considered extremely or very strong, 40 percent said Silicon Valley, 34 percent said Massachusetts, 34 percent pointed to Virginia and 33 percent cited Silicon Alley. Texas came in last at 28 percent of the tallies. Overall 43 percent said they felt the US tech industry was strong right now.

Jennifer Lacy, director of job market research for The New York Times, said this was the first survey the division did about the IT industry’s views on the job market. She expected to revisit the survey in six months to compare the results.

The results came from chief executives, vice presidents of technology, information or sales, chief information officers and chief technology offers. She said 82 percent of the companies derived their revenues from other businesses and that 85 percent of the companies are publicly held.

New York-based Beta Research Corporation conducted the survey for The New York Times Job Market. More detailed results about the survey can be found on the Job Market Web site at

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