Discrete Manufacturers Lead Rise in IT Capital Spending

August, 2011

Irvine, Calif.—Discrete manufacturing is one of the bright spots for capital spending on IT goods and services, according to the IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks 2011/2012 study by Computer Economics, an IT research and advisory firm.

The annual study found that discrete manufacturers in the U.S. and Canada are increasing IT capital budgets by 12.5% this year, the highest of any sector in the study. For all sectors, the median increase in IT capital budgets this year is 1.8%.

Discrete manufacturers include makers of a broad range of products, such as consumer products, consumer durable goods, industrial equipment, industrial parts, capital equipment, aerospace products, auto parts, building products, electrical parts, and electronic devices. Improvements in this sector would be indicative of a maturing recovery.

“This sector is partly catching up to reduction in capital spending in previous years due to the slowdown in consumer spending and capital investment,” said Frank Scavo, president of Computer Economics. “But the current recovery is weak, and if consumer and business spending does not continue to improve, discrete manufacturers will make adjustments.”

The study also shows that discrete manufacturers are increasing IT operational spending this year by 3.8%, although that is not immediately translating into an increase in median staff size. The operational spending increase is well above the composite median of 2.0%.

Other sectors planning above-average increases in capital spending include energy and utilities (9.0%), high tech (5.0%), wholesale distribution (3.1%), and banking and finance (2.0%). Sectors with below average change in capital spending include government (0.6%), process manufacturing (0.0%), and professional and technical services (0.0%).

About the Study
The Computer Economics IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks study, now in its 22nd year of publication, provides key metrics to assist organizations in the financial and strategic management of information technology. Each year, we conduct an in-depth survey of IT executives in the U.S. and Canada to gather detailed metrics concerning their IT spending and staffing levels, use of outsourcing, and adoption of IT management best practices. The respondents include executives in the public and private sectors. By repeating this survey each year, Computer Economics is in a unique position to identify long-term trends and understand the challenges of managing IT organizations.

The study is based on a survey of more than 200 IT executives conducted in the first quarter of 2011. It provides composite statistics of IT spending and staffing data, a segmentation of the same statistics by organization size, and individual chapters for 19 sectors and subsectors. A detailed description of the study’s content, design, demographics, and methodology can be found in the executive summary.