December 8, 2010 – Spending on information technology will "remain restrained," next year, according to research firm Computer Economics. But technology executives "are also receiving the go-ahead to take risks with projects that promise long-term improvements" at their firms.

Operational spending will increase by 2 percent, at the median, according to the firm's "Outlook for IT Spending and Staffing in 2011." That means half of the 136 organizations surveyed in the last quarter of this year will increase spending more and half will grow spending at less than that rate or cut it. The 136 firms are in the U.S. and Canada.

The 2 percent gain comes after two years of no change at the median, accompanied by substantial budget cuts by one-fourth of organizations. But the forecast is modest in comparison to the three years leading up to the recession, Computer Economics said.

The forecast for growth appears firm, the researcher said, based on actions taken by IT executives in the fourth quarter. IT organizations have been extending staff hours, adding temporary workers, and launching "major projects" that promise strong returns or benefits.

"After two years of flat budgets, any increase in IT spending is welcome news. I also like what I see in the growth in new project work and extended work hours" said Frank Scavo, President of Computer Economics. "At some point, hopefully by mid-year in 2011, these trends have to result in increased hiring for IT professionals."

Organizations are also beginning to spend money on equipment upgrades as they migrate to Windows 7 or improve network infrastructure, Computer Economics said.

This story originally appeared on Securities Technology Monitor.

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