Cautious Optimism For 2013 IT: 2 Steps Forward, 1 Back

There are a few signs of optimism pointing to slow and steady improvements in IT spending, with the US expected to grow 2.9% with upside potential of 4.9%, while the world is pegged at 3% and 5.2%, respectively, according to a new study (IT Industry Outlook 2013) from CompTIA. IDC stated that last year’s global IT market was worth $3.6 trillion, with the US spending more than $950 billion on IT hardware (26%), software (17%), services (25%) and telecommunications (32%).

The Computing Technology Industry Association, a non-profit trade association, cautions that the possibility of a stalled recovery is an ongoing concern. The “two steps forward, one step backward” pattern experienced for much of the past two years has conditioned many businesses to expect a dose of bad news with any good news, the association stated. The industry is also concerned about weak corporate demand, downward pressure on margins, access to capital and government regulation.

While business confidence remains essentially flat from Q4, it’s not all doom and gloom. CompTIA says that US businesses have more than $5 trillion in cash reserves and in the event that they feel ‘safe’, they could tap these resources and further spur growth, making hitting the higher range of the forecasts more likely. However, the association does view 2013 as another transitional year, as incremental advances in a number of areas make their mark on the IT industry and the broader economy.

Notable disrupters, such as cloud, mobility, social, big data and the Internet of Things will continue to disrupt, and IT will continue its transition from supporting tool to strategic driver. CompTIA expects companies will find even more ways to leverage mobility, while further embracing a cloud–first mindset. To ensure efficiency and effectiveness, businesses will seek to capitalize on the big data phenomena, and in the process realize the need for basic data management strategies.

Last year CompTIA identified the following trends, and it expects many of them to continue to be factors in 2013:

-Disintermediation – the Drive to Simplify

-Automation Pushes Into New Areas

-The Enterprise Digital Divide

-The Ever–Shifting Regulatory Environment

-Employees On the Go…Expect Their Data to Follow

-Cloud Computing Expands IT Department Toolbox

-Social Tools and IP Communications Change Collaboration

-Everything Gets an IP Address

-Business Transformation: Evolution or Revolution?

-Vendor–Channel Relationship: Show Me the Love

-Specialization: Blessing or Curse?

-Considering the Customer

Three major trends have combined to significantly change the way technology is used, says CompTIA. Mobility enables employees to be productive at any time from any place, while also giving businesses new ways to engage with customers. Cloud computing offers companies a new way of building flexible infrastructure. Big Data tools allow new insights to be gained from untapped data sources, and firms are seeing the importance of organizing and managing their data.

According to Information Week’s 2013 Outlook, 71% of firms see rising demand for IT projects and 60% expect higher IT budgets. However, the report also found that most IT projects are IT-centric (i.e. improving security, building more robust networks), and fewer companies recognize that IT projects must take a leading role in driving mission critical projects. CompTIA says IT must learn how to provide broad oversight for a company and proactively bring technology to bear on corporate objectives.

Technologies getting closer to broader adoption include machine learning, razor-thin clients, alternative user interfaces and contextual computing. CompTIA believes that there will be a lot of discussion around the definitions of Big Data and its value to corporations. As with cloud computing, Big Data is a term that can be easily applied to a service or product as a way to capitalize on the trend’s momentum. The hype around the term and the inevitable backlash will delay appreciation of how a business can properly manage data in high volumes, wide varieties, or rapid velocity. In addition, the disparate nature of most companies’ existing data will surprise them as they attempt to organize their current information before moving into new initiatives.

 

Author: Steve Wexler

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