The recession is cutting into small and midsized businesses' IT spending, and some industries are hurting more than others, according to the results of the latest IT Effectiveness Index (ITEI) survey. The ITEI is a benchmarking tool that measures the technology effectiveness of small and midsized businesses. (Small Business Trends is one of the partners of the study.) According to the latest survey, the manufacturing industry has been hit hardest, with 66 percent of people in this industry delaying, halting or canceling IT projects, and a similar number reducing capital expenses. Also hard hit were the communications industry (at 55 percent), wholesale businesses (52 percent) and service providers with 48 percent reporting an IT spending slowdown. Not surprisingly, the computer industry was the least affected - only a third of the respondents in that industry said their IT projects had been affected by the recession. And the woes don't end there. Half of the manufacturing industry respondents said their IT operations were either understaffed or critically understaffed. Thirty-three percent of service providers said the same, as did nearly a quarter of the respondents in the computer industry. The survey's results do give cause for concern. "For SMBs, technology provides a key differentiator to support business growth," said Steve Kahan, vice president of marketing and product management with The Planet, another of the survey's sponsors. "The results of the survey seem to indicate that capital expense budgets have been hit hard and adequate staffing of IT is a struggle in many industries." Is technology a differentiator for your business?\u00a0 Weigh in with what you think. And benchmark YOUR business. SMBs are encouraged to participate (it's\u00a0free), and the survey is an efficient way for business owners to benchmark their businesses and\u00a0audit their IT effectiveness. Upon completing the ITEI survey, participants are automatically entered to win a Dell Netbook computer and each entrant receives a follow up email with peer comparisons based on their company size and industry. In January 2010, the ITEI Partners will publish the SMB IT Effectiveness Index Annual Report, which will be provided free to anyone who participates in the survey. * * * * * About the Author: Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America 's entrepreneurs for nearly 30 years. Follow her on Twitter @Rieva and visit SmallBizDaily to read more of her insights on small business.