CFOs at high-tech companies are more worried about the economy and their own companies' future than those in other industries, according to a study released last week by Financial Executives International and Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.
A recovery isn't imminent, say the majority of the 358 CFOs surveyed. Of the 43 tech-sector financial executives, a third say they're more optimistic about their companies' financial prospects than they were a quarter ago, 30% say they're less optimistic, and 37% don't expect any change. Across all industries, more than half of the CFOs are more optimistic about their companies' prospects.
But tech CFOs may be being overly cautious. IT spending as a percentage of overall budgets will increase to 10.5% in the third quarter, compared with 9.4% in the second, say the 300 IT executives that InformationWeek Research recently surveyed in its IT Priorities study for the third quarter.
Bob Williamson, who's leaving his post as CFO of broker-dealer firm VFinance Inc. to start his own company, says there's good reason for technology-company CFOs to be optimistic. The equipment purchased in the late '90s as companies rushed toward Y2K compliance is showing signs of age, and CFOs are probably getting pressured to replace it.
"We need to go back to a cycle of constant renewal," Williamson says. Technology vendors' experiences in recent years, he adds, have prompted them to be more cautious in their projections.