The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), the principal trade association of the software code and information content industries, and Spencer Stuart, a leading privately held global executive search firm, released the results of an industry-wide survey of senior-level software executives.

Designed to gauge the outlook of senior-level software executives on the state of the industry, the survey asked more than 250 U.S.-based software leaders about industry trends, talent needs and the challenges and opportunities facing their companies. The survey also explored and analyzed executive attitudes about operational issues, talent recruitment and retention, and outsourcing.

More than half of survey respondents expressed confidence in their company's near-term growth prospects, anticipating revenue growth of 20 percent or more for 2004. Nevertheless, software executives included in the survey are keeping a close watch on IT spending levels. Nearly three-quarters of respondents indicated that the state of IT spending is one of the most important strategic factors affecting their company.

Other survey findings include:

  • Retaining top performers is the top talent priority for software companies.
  • Except for companies with revenue less than $15 million, the move to reduce headcount has slowed. Just 9 percent of companies overall report that headcount reduction is a priority.
  • Software companies are most likely to fill senior leadership, sales and alliance management, and general management roles in the next six to 12 months.
  • Application development and maintenance are the functions most likely to be outsourced, according to survey respondents.

Participating companies were selected to represent the varied business and distribution models of the software industry, including vertical applications, enterprise and consumer software, software as a service and open source. Eighty percent of the respondents were the chief executive officer, chief operating officer, president or senior vice president of their companies. More than half of the companies surveyed had annual revenue in excess of $15 million.

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