Gartner: Enterprise IT Spend Will Pass $3.6 Trillion In 2012, Cloud Investments Rise To $109B

Gartner has updated its forecasts on IT spend worldwide: spend in areas like hardware, software, and IT services are going to drive total investment of $3.6 trillion into IT overall. Gartner calls that number “lackluster,” in that it’s only slightly higher than Gartner projected last month, and only three percent more than 2011’s $3.5 trillion figure. However, what’s noticeable is that we are continuing to see a strong appetite for cloud computing. It will reach $109 billion in 2012 and will almost double in value by 2016 to $209 billion.

The survey canvases activity from over 75 percent of Gartner’s Global 500 list of top companies, and the analysts say that factors that are hemming in growth include the eurozone crisis, a slowdown in China and a weaker-than-expected recovery in the U.S. — all ongoing issues for the world economy. “There has been little change in either business confidence or consumer sentiment in the past quarter, so the short-term outlook is for continued caution in IT spending,” notes Richard Gordon, research vice president at Gartner, in the report.

Gartner’s forecasts do not include consumer spending on cloud services — a significant market that has been propelled by the rise of media-friendly but storage-shy smartphones and tablets, as well as better networks. That area is growing, too: back in March, Gartner predicted that by the end of next year (2013) more than 90 percent of all connected consumer devices will have cloud services integrated into them. Consumers, it says, will spend $2.2 trillion on digital technology products this year.

Key names in the consumer segment include Apple’s iCloud, Dropbox and Box, with the latter selling storage services direct to consumers as well as in bundles with other consumer products like mobile devices. Meanwhile, popular streaming media apps like Spotify not only drive consumer usage of cloud services but also increased enterprise spend for Spotify to enable the services to exist.

While cloud services are, relatively speaking, still only a small part of all enterprise IT spend — that $109 billion is only three percent of $3.6 trillion — it’s one of the faster-growing segments, says Gartner.

In the enterprise segment, Gartner says that the “vast majority” of cloud investment will be in the area of business process as a service — for example billing systems that run in the cloud — but it notes that areas that are actually growing faster right now are software as a service, and infrastructure as a service — with the latter including not just storage but the replacement of equipment that was traditionally on a customers’ premises, such as a phone service (this is an area where companies like Skype and Twilio have the chance to be particularly disruptive).

Gartner — which itself makes money on consulting services — says that services like consulting will drive IT services spend to $864 billion this year, up by only 2.3 percent from 2011. It notes that consulting is less about business strategy today than it is about technology, driven by the need to make better sense of how to harness analytics and big data innovations.

And although there are Skypes, Twilios, Rebtels and more looking to upset the carriers’ apple cart, their portion of IT spend remains the largest: it will account for nearly $1.7 trillion of IT spend, although it will also be growing the slowest this year: