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For the first time in its history, CompTIA’s IT Industry Business Confidence Index showed third-quarter business confidence exceeding second-quarter levels, and confidence is expected to remain high in the fourth quarter.
Tech executives and business owners reported positive news on year-to-date revenue tracking and expressed optimism about the near-term future. The third-quarter index increased by 3.2 points to 67.4 on a 100-point scale.
More than 300 U.S. technology companies participated in the survey, which has been published since 2009.
“More than three-quarters of the firms surveyed say they are on target or ahead of revenue goals for 2017, which certainly figures into the positive business sentiment,” said Tim Herbert, CompTIA’s senior vice president of research and market intelligence.
All three components of the index showed positive movement in the third quarter. Executives’ confidence in the U.S. economy stands at 62.4, up from 60 last quarter. Confidence in the IT industry rose to 70.6, up from 66.7. Self-assessment of their own company increased to 69.1 from 65.9 in the second quarter.
Industry executives expect the momentum to continue, with a forecast for the overall index to climb again in the fourth quarter.
Tempering the positive third-quarter results are executives’ concerns about factors that could negatively impact the business climate. Topping the list are worries that customers will delay or postpone new spending on technology products and services. Half of the companies surveyed cited this as a potential growth inhibitor.
“This is especially concerning for small tech firms [that] often have a concentrated customer base and can be significantly impacted by the loss of just a few accounts,” Herbert said.
The availability and cost of labor is another concern for tech businesses of all sizes. Forty-three percent of firms cited labor concerns in the latest survey, a 13 percentage point jump from third-quarter 2016.
“With an unemployment rate for IT occupations hovering around 2 percent and demand for tech workers growing across every industry, the inability to find workers is a serious threat to growth,” Herbert said.
Organizations are re-thinking their strategies for recruiting technology workers, according to the May 2017 CompTIA report “Assessing the IT Skills Gap.” These strategies include finding better ways to provide on-the-job experience and training, such as: apprenticeships and internships; using professional certifications and credentials to validate skills and knowledge; and developing better methods to evaluate the skills of job candidates.