Tech Sector CEOs Staying the Course

Chief executives at the nation's top technology companies say they see many new challenges in the months ahead, but are confident that the tech sector will withstand these trials, according to Deloitte & Touche's recent survey of companies on its Fast 500 list. "The members of the Fast 500 are some of the fastest growing companies in the technology space, and their CEOs are entrepreneurs of multiple companies," says Mark Evans, managing director of Deloitte & Touche's Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Group. "They know how to manage their growth so that they can continue to thrive while the economy recovers." Evans says companies in general are looking to be more customer-centric than ever, and this will help many in the tech sector: "Companies are looking to drive revenue growth and cut costs. The companies that specialize in helping companies focus on the customer and maximize opportunities to close a sale can be confident going forward." In line with Evans's comments, 68 percent of those surveyed say that they plan to stay the course and have no plans to downsize over the next year. Only three percent plan headcount reductions. Surprisingly, 81 percent say their companies will hire new associates, while 19 percent say they do not plan to hire any new employees this year. The survey also revealed that as CEOs see the bottom line as an important consideration, the fat will mostly be trimmed from travel and administrative costs, not slashing staff. "There's not any great mystery to creating budgets that work," Russ Hawkins, CEO of Paragon Networks International, which ranked Number 265 on the 2002 Technology Fast 500, said in the survey. "You simply have to make more than you are spending and deal head-on with hard issues like reducing overhead, layoffs, not giving salary increases, and pushing suppliers to deliver more for less. No one likes dealing with these tough situations, but ultimately, in a down economy it's essential for survival to make hard calls." The top challenges listed by the CEOs in the survey include regaining investor confidence, bringing new products to market, managing customer relationships, and maintaining brand presence.
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