The Roundup: No Vacation From E-Mail

Get the feeling that e-mail is tightening its grip on your life? Gartner finds that business users can't even escape from the electronic missives while they're on vacation.
Get the feeling that e-mail is tightening its grip on your life? You're not alone. A new survey from Gartner Inc. finds that e-mail is becoming omnipresent in the lives of business users, who can't escape from the electronic missives even while on vacation.

Gartner, a Stamford, Conn., IT research firm, recently surveyed an unspecified number of business users and discovered that 42 percent of them check their e-mail while on vacation; 23 percent check it on weekends.

On workdays, 53 percent of business users check e-mail six or more times a day, while 34 percent check it "constantly" during the day. On average, business users spend 49 minutes per day managing e-mail accounts -- a figure that no doubt spikes higher if you're among the top-level IT staff or execs in your organization.

Gartner's survey (it did not report how many people were queried or what their roles were in their organizations) found that business users receive an average of 22 e-mails per day, with 27 percent requiring immediate attention and 34 percent being "occupational spam," or unnecessary e-mails from co-workers.

The "always on" syndrome of modern communications channels appears to be redefining not only the workday, but also family weekends and vacations. "Business use of cell phones, instant messaging and e-mail has crept into our lives on a 24-by-7 basis," says Maurene Caplan Grey, a Gartner senior research analyst. "The connected vacationer is always on the alert for business interruptions. For better or for worse, 42 percent of us go online to look for business e-mails during vacation."

Europe May Drag Down Global IT Spending

To get an idea of where worldwide IT spending will go in the next three years, keep your eye on the Western European economy.

IDC, the Framingham, Mass., tech research firm, says a weaker economy in that region could have a major global impact on the demand for IT products and services over the next three years.

IDC's report says new economic data indicates Western Europe may follow the United States into a downturn. That could reduce worldwide IT spending between 2001 and 2003 by as much as $150 billion, with $50 billion less demand from Europe.

Analysts first predicted that the European IT market would show double-digit growth through 2001. But there are definite signs of weaknesses that could change that. For instance, IDC reports a downturn in IT hardware spending from service providers pulling back on purchases of networking equipment, as well as slumping PC sales. Software and services are still expected to show strong growth, an IDC analyst reports.

IDC forecasts 11 percent growth for IT spending in Western Europe this year, with that dropping as low as 7.9 percent in a "worst-case" scenario. The most at-risk countries are Germany and Italy, with the U.K. expected to be more stable.

Spending Up for IT Support Services

Despite cutbacks on IT purchases, many companies will continue to spend money on external hardware and software support services, according to a newly released survey from Dataquest Inc., a unit of Gartner.

Dataquest surveyed more than 250 organizations in January and found that 52 percent expect to increase their spending on external hardware support services, while 63 percent expect to increase spending on external software support over the next two years.

For those expecting to boost their spending, an average two-year increase is expected to be 28 percent for hardware support and 27 percent for software support. A small number expect to decrease their spending in each segment -- 13 percent will decrease their spending on external hardware support, 5 percent on software support.

Dataquest's survey found that the hardware manufacturer (such as of workgroup or local-area network servers or storage devices) is the most popular source of support, with the most important attribute users look for being the ability to provide a single point-of-contact for all hardware support.

The report indicates that 70 percent of 177 respondents said they have used Internet-based support services, a trend that has been increasing the past two years. The biggest complaint: users say they get a satisfactory answer only 52 percent of the time using Net-based support services.

Outsourcing On the Upswing

The Cutter Consortium, an Arlington, Mass., IT consultancy, asked 86 IS/IT managers which of the following types of outsourcing relationships their organizations would be involved with over the next two years.

The results:

  • 52 percent will be involved with traditional outsourcing
  • 47 percent with an application service provider
  • 21 percent with a business service provider
  • 17 percent with business process outsourcing
  • 13 percent with a management service provider, and
  • 11 percent other.

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