A look back at 2009 IT salaries and careers: IT lessons learned

Although glad to be out of 2009, IT managers learned a lot, tackling shrinking budgets and added responsibilities. Find out more, including how IT salaries have fared.

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Last year took a toll on most midmarket IT departments, as the recession continued to wear on budgets and employee morale.

The results of our annual SearchCIO-Midmarket.com IT salary and careers survey conducted in the fourth quarter of 2009 summed up the general feelings of the 420 respondents at the time -- IT was strained, but hopeful. Cuts in IT budgets and staffing meant fewer resources, and more to do. IT managers wore multiple hats and shifted focus to be more tactical in their decision making, but pay increases were moderate. All in all, however, CIOs and IT managers were looking forward to an economic turnaround in 2010.

How much are midmarket CIOs and IT managers expecting to make this year? What did pay increases and IT salaries look like in 2009? Find out what's changed in IT and how it may play a role going forward in our IT salary survey wrap-up.

This guide is part of SearchCIO-Midmarket.com's Midmarket CIO Briefings series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic guidance and advice on management and decision-making topics. For a complete list of topics covered to date, visit the Midmarket CIO Briefings section.

Table of contents

  IT employee morale up, IT budgets down
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The year and the economic downturn led to cuts in staffing and budgets. Yet, according to some IT managers, the changes worked out for the best -- they allowed IT to focus on specific business needs and become more involved in decision making and strategic planning earlier.

Bob Wickham, data manager at Vermeer Corp., an agricultural and industrial equipment manufacturing company, for example, said he was able to work more closely with the business side. The more budget-conscious tone of 2009 forced everyone to make smarter, more efficient decisions, he said, and that meant turning to IT as the enabler to get the most out of every investment.

In our annual IT salary and careers survey, 50% of more than 420 IT managers at midsized organizations said their IT budgets were lower in 2009 than 2008. Some 41% of IT organizations at companies with 100 to 1,000 employees also shrank in size, 63% of those by layoffs, with the balance by attrition or reorganization. And 54% of the IT executives and IT managers reported having a significantly increased workload, with 50% reporting more operational duties than before.

Yet when asked about the atmosphere at their organizations, responses were split almost evenly among optimistic, pessimistic or neither. And in interviews, survey respondents explained that after stretching their legs and proving to themselves and their organization what they had to offer in 2009, they are feeling more empowered than ever to take on 2010.

Learn more in "Teams rally to bring value after cuts in IT staffing." Also:

  IT salaries and pay increases looking up in 2010
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While midmarket IT salaries vary by industry and title, healthy salary increases are expected in 2010 across the board as last year's doom and gloom subsides.

According to the 2009 SearchCIO-Midmarket.com survey, more than 55% of the 420 respondents are expecting a pay increase in 2010, compared with 32% in 2009. And only 11% are expecting a pay cut or furlough, down from 25% last year. Overall, the positive outlook is in tune with high IT morale, as 47% reported having an optimistic staff and work environment in 2009.

Learn more in "Salaries vary by industry, 2010 raises expected." Also:

  The role of the CIO during budget-crunch time
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Did the Great Recession put a crimp on how much time CIOs devoted to long-range IT strategic planning, as opposed to short-range tactical decisions? For half of all IT executive respondents in SearchCIO.com's annual salary and career survey, it sure did.

Industry analysts who cover CIO careers will no doubt debate whether this shift to tactics signals a professional step back for strategic-minded CIOs. In following up with survey participants, however, one thing was clear: Businesses relied heavily on IT to get them through the tough economic year, suggesting that tactical decision making was the new IT strategic thinking, at least in 2009.

Learn more in "Tactical decisions outweighed IT strategic planning for CIOs in 2009." Also:

  More resources
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This was first published in February 2010

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