“Tech exec survey shows optimism,” an article by Brendan Lynch from this week’s local technology publication, MHT (Mass High Tech, March 27-April 2, 2009), provides an unexpectedly positive outlook from many local technology executives.
“Almost 70 percent of those surveyed expected first-quarter revenue to remain steady or grow; and more than 80 percent expected sales to stay flat or grow for the year.”
These results indicate a pause, not healthy growth, as over 60% of the respondents for expectations for both the first quarter of 2009 and the full year fell into the “essentially flat” and “5-20% growth over 2008” categories. Essentially flat and 5-20% growth expectations would look like a terrific turnaround for many industries, but technologies companies either grow or whither. But at least this is not the collapse of the dot.com days.
Technology firms’ growth strategies depend heavily on interesting new buyers in their products and/or services. But pauses concentrate on existing customers. Forty-eight percent of the MHT survey respondents believe that first half revenue will come from existing customers; 37% predict a mix of old and new customers. Only 15% look to new customers for the majority of their revenue.
The good news on employment is that only about 5% of the companies surveyed expect to lay staff off in 2009. However, the not-so-good news is that only around 30% reported plans to hire this year (see “grow or whither” above).
With the economy so weak overall, a pause for technology looks good to me.