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Will these be the good old days?

In the January issue of KMWorld (p. 18), we mentioned a report in which Frank Gens, IDC senior VP of research, predicts we'll see a 6% to 8% jump in IT spending in 2004. Now, the Gartner Technology Demand Index points to a surge in IT spending across all sectors in 2004. This follows a weak Q4 '03, when there was no "flush" of budget spending, says David Hankin, Gartner senior VP and general manager.

He sees strong growth in IT spending in organizations of all sizes, especially in the public sector, technology manufacturing/communications and healthcare, for reasons varying from replacement purchases to maintenance fees. Software spending should climb through maintaining current programs, with a hike in personal productivity and information management software. More money will go to vendors encouraging customers--Hankin says "exerting pressure"--to upgrade to new versions of enterprise software. On the hardware front, expect spending to be relatively flat except for mobile devices. Storage and desktop PC spending will fall, says Gartner.

As we watch this year to see how these predictions unfold, it seems pretty clear that the dog days of the IT slump are over—but things are heating up on other fronts. IT job outsourcing continues to be a very hot issue. India, China and other nations with a well-educated work force have benefited greatly, and their people have proven they can hold their own against U.S. counterparts. In an India Times article, Forrester Research is attributed to predicting that over the next 15 years, U.S. firms might be moving as many as 3 million white-color jobs and $136 billion in salary, compared to $4 billion in 2000.

A host of bills have been introduced at the state level to protect U.S. jobs (often call center-related) from going overseas, and lining up on the other side is, for example, India's National Association of Software and Service companies, which represents more than 800 Indian companies with an international presence. The association has hired PR and lobbying firm Hill & Knowlton to help influence state and national legislators. In the United States, the India Caucus, with more than 150 Congressional members, opposes legislation limiting job outsourcing, reports the India Times. And to complicate matters further, the whole issue of placing legislative limits on certain types of visas is being debated. If restrictive legislation passes, India, China, the Philippines and other will suffer. If it doesn't, many argue, the American middle class will.

Make no mistake about it: Intellectual property in the broadest sense of the term is clearly a commodity.

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