US falls behind in spending on innovation

Redmond, Washington – Budget constraints mean American IT professionals are spending less on innovation than their counterparts in the UK, Japan and Germany, according to a new survey.

While many IT professionals are investing in specific areas of IT infrastructure, 55 percent say the economy has changed the role of IT and 51 percent say that budget constraints are the biggest barrier to their innovation, according to the Harris Interactive study, commissioned for Microsoft.

Of the four countries included, the US seems to be suffering most from the recession. IT managers in Japan and the UK indicated they would devote 41 percent of their budgets toward innovation versus ‘keeping the lights on’, or maintaining current systems.

IT professionals in Germany plan to invest 35 percent, while their counterparts in the US plan to spend only 29 percent on innovation. On average, IT professionals across all four countries say they will allocate 37 percent of their budgets to innovation in 2009. Only 22 percent of IT professionals cite giving the business a competitive edge as their current top priority.

The economy may also be stifling investment in green IT innovation. Eighty-four percent of IT professionals consider green factors when making decisions about datacenters, but they don’t necessarily follow through – only 44 percent said that ‘green’ played into the final decision.

Efficiency is more of an issue than simple cost-cutting, however. While 30 percent said they were focused on reducing IT costs, 48 percent said they were were focused on driving business efficiency. Nearly two-thirds plan to increase their planned investment in at least one infrastructure technology, including virtualization, security, systems management and cloud computing.

Security was the biggest challenge in managing infrastructure, and 73 percent reported that protection of customer and company data was their top security priority over the next one to three years.