Global IT Spend Will Rise 4.1% To $3.8 Trillion In 2013, ‘A Calm Ocean With Turbulent Currents’, With Mobile Driving Growth

Gartner has just released its annual projections on worldwide IT spend over the next two years, covering sales in hardware, software, enterprise and telecoms. The overall trends continue to point up: globally we will see $3.8 trillion spent across all categories, a rise of 4.1% on 2012. That’s a sign of slight recovery on a year ago: growth in 2012 was only 2.1%. Mobile and enterprise services are fuelling a lot of the good news, with declines in areas of legacy technology like PCs and voice services.

Telecoms services will continue to account for the biggest proportion of IT spend, at $1.69 billion of spend, nearly 45% of the total.

But they are also a sign of how times are changing, with declines in some areas and growth in others. Specifically, fixed voice services — which not only have been commoditized through competition, but are becoming less used by consumers who opt for mobile-only contracts — will continue diminish in size. Meanwhile, mobile data services, driven by trends in smartphone and tablet usage, continue to grow. These two trends will offset each other, resulting in “roughly flat” growth over this year and the next, says Gartner.

The rise of mobile is being felt in other categories, too.

Hardware sales — noted as “devices” in Gartner’s table below — will be the fastest-growing category this year, up nearly 8% to $718 billion, or 19% of all IT spend. PC sales, however, will be flat, and printer sales are in decline — another two signs of how there is some pain and woe still to come for some companies working in legacy technologies. (The current state of play with Dell being one specific sign of that.) Gartner notes that the rise in devices is down to the impact of mobile, a result of the rise in smartphone usage, which has been so strong that Gartner actually raised its previous device forecast of 6.3% growth.

Gartner cautions that while nothing is going away soon, wider trends in mobile, cloud, social media and information management are affecting all categories of spend, which will have a knock-on effect in making some companies stronger, and others weaker, in the next several years:

“The global steady growth rates are a calm ocean that hides turbulent currents beneath,” writes John Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner. “The Nexus of Forces — social, mobile, cloud and information — are reshaping spending patterns across all of the IT sectors that Gartner forecasts. Consumers and businesses will continue to purchase a mix of IT products and services; nothing is going away completely. However, the ratio of this mix is changing dramatically and there are clear winners and losers over the next three to five years, as we see more of a transition from PCs to mobile phones, from servers to storage, from licensed software to cloud, or the shift in voice and data connections from fixed to mobile.”

To give some more color device side, analysts at IDC yesterday released figures that estimate that this year some 60% of “smart connected devices” shipped in 2012 were smartphones, with that proportion rising to 67% by 2017. PCs, meanwhile, just under 30% of devices were PCs (desktop and laptop combined) in 2012, but with that number dropping down to a paltry 17% by 2017. Tablets will make up the difference, rising from 10.7% to 16% by 2017.

After devices, Gartner notes that enterprise software will be the second-biggest growth segment, up 6.4% to $297 billion, or just under 8% of all IT spend. Gartner notes that database management systems, data integration tools and supply chain management are three growing areas, while IT operations management and operating systems are seeing “lower growth expectations.” Again, the shift away from these latter two categories are signs of some of the impact of cloud-based services, which take away both the need for on-premises management and software investments.

gartner ww it spend 2013-2014