This post brings a compact view from Gartner and Comptia forecast reports for IT Market in 2020.
Worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.9 trillion in 2020, an increase of 3.4% from 2019, according to the latest forecast by Gartner, Inc. Global IT spending is expected to cross into $4 trillion territory next year.
“Although political uncertainties pushed the global economy closer to recession, it did not occur in 2019 and is still not the most likely scenario for 2020 and beyond,” said John-David Lovelock, distinguished research vice president at Gartner. “With the waning of global uncertainties, businesses are redoubling investments in IT as they anticipate revenue growth, but their spending patterns are continually shifting.”
Software will be the fastest-growing major market this year, reaching double-digit growth at 10.5% (see graphics below). “Almost all of the market segments with enterprise software are being driven by the adoption of software as a service (SaaS),” said Mr. Lovelock. “We even expect spending on forms of software that are not cloud to continue to grow, albeit at a slower rate. SaaS is gaining more of the new spending, although licensed-based software will still be purchased and its use expanded through 2023.”
Gartner’s IT spending forecast methodology relies heavily on rigorous analysis of sales by thousands of vendors across the entire range of IT products and services. Gartner uses primary research techniques, complemented by secondary research sources, to build a comprehensive database of market size data on which to base its forecast.
According to the IT Industry Outlook report from CompTIA, the global information technology industry is on pace to reach $5.2 trillion in 2020. The enormity of the industry is a function of many of the trends discussed in the report. Economies, jobs, and personal lives are becoming more digital, more connected, and more automated.
The United States is the largest tech market in the world, representing 32% of the total, or approximately $1.7 trillion for 2020. In the U.S., as well as in many other countries, the tech sector accounts for a significant portion of economic activity.
CompTIA’s Cyberstates report reveals that the economic impact of the U.S. tech sector, measured as a percentage of gross domestic product, exceeds that of most other industries, including notable sectors such as retail, construction, and transportation. Despite the size of the U.S. market, the majority of technology spending (68%) occurs beyond its borders. Spending is often correlated with factors such as population, GDP, and market maturity. Among global regions, western Europe remains a significant contributor, accounting for approximately one of every five technology dollars spent worldwide. However, as far as individual countries go, China has clearly established itself as a major player in the global tech market. China has followed a pattern that can also be seen in developing regions, where there is a twofold effect of closing the gap in categories such as IT infrastructure, software, and services, along with staking out leadership positions in emerging areas such as robotics.
CompTIA uses a consensus forecasting approach. This “wisdom of the crowds” model attempts to balance the opinions of large IT firms with small IT firms, as well as optimistic opinions with pessimistic opinions. The results attempt a best-fit forecast that reflects the sentiment of industry executives.
As with any forecast, especially one as far-reaching as overall industry growth, many factors can play a role in the estimation. On the upside, spending on emerging tech may accelerate and even drive additional spending in well-established areas that act as foundational pieces. Conversely, currency fluctuations or trade policies could have a negative impact, causing companies to tighten their belt on discretionary IT purchases.
Other factors that influence revenue growth projections include pricing and product mix. The tech space is somewhat unique in that prices tend to fall over time, which may result in large numbers of units shipped but only modest revenue growth. As with last year, the product mix in the year ahead will be an especially important factor, as the high growth rates of emerging categories are expected to more than offset the slow growth mature categories.
There are a number of taxonomies for depicting the information technology space. Using the conventional approach, the industry market can be categorized into five top level buckets. The traditional categories of hardware, software and services account for 56% of the global total. The other core category, telecom services, accounts for 26%. The remaining 17% covers various emerging technologies that either don’t fit into one of the traditional buckets or span multiple categories, which is the case for many emerging ‘as-a-service’ solutions that include elements of hardware, software, and service, such as IoT, drones, and many automating technologies.
IT PROFESSIONALS SEE A PROMISING FUTURE
If the industry is strong and maturing, and if businesses are taking the next step in developing technology strategies, then it stands to reason that IT professionals should feel confident about their future prospects. Overall, this seems to be the case. The vast majority of technology workers feel optimistic about their role as an IT professional. In the U.S., 86% of IT pros rate their outlook as very good or fairly good. In different geographies, the sentiment is the same—81% in Canada, 75% in the UK, 82% in Australia/New Zealand (ANZ) and 85% in the Benelux region (Belgium/Netherlands/Luxembourg). The primary reason for the positive sentiment is high demand for technology skills, which in turn leads to robust career options. There is also a sense that the importance of technology to business objectives makes technology a more integral part of business operations and gives IT pros an opportunity to play a role in the direction of the organization.
On the other hand, some individuals have reservations about their career in the technology field. One of the main reasons for concern is the challenge of increasing complexity in business systems. The trend of skill diversity is not lost on technology professionals. The first step in handling complexity is to grow individual skills, but as things scale up, it becomes untenable for one person to handle it all. This can lead to a feeling of uncertainty and also a feeling that better results are expected even though budgets are flat or shrinking. Other factors contribute as well. In the U.S. and Canada, there is slightly more worry over outsourcing. In the UK and ANZ, one of the main issues is an inability to pursue skill growth in the current role. And the Benelux region stands out in terms of fear over the perception that technology causes harm to society. To some degree, these issues are present for any field, and it is worth repeating that a minority of IT pros have any uneasiness at all.
In-demand skills are a major driver for future sentiment, but the reason skills are in such high demand is that there is such a wide variety today. As the trends section described, the IT skills of the previous era were marked by a heavy concentration in infrastructure. Now, as companies are maturing in their technology usage, there are demands across all four IT pillars defined by CompTIA’s IT framework. Software development is the area where most companies expect to place focus in the upcoming year, but there is also strong demand for cybersecurity, data, and infrastructure.
While software development is poised to be the primary pillar for many firms in 2020, it is also an area where many firms may not have a long history. Until cloud computing lowered barriers for custom development, companies relied heavily on packaged software. In order to come up to speed, businesses are quickly learning both the best practices of the past and the new evolutions in the development space. User experience is a good example of the latter, as mobile apps have redefined expectations around usability and reliability. Artificial intelligence is another evolution, albeit one in much earlier stages. Quality assurance is perhaps a topic that bridges both sides—a practice that has always been a part of software engineering, but one that has changed drastically as cloud computing has given rise to microservice architecture. For all the attention that DevOps has received, it is somewhat surprising to see it so low on the list of critical areas. This could be due to the fact that data and security are nearly on equal footing with development and infrastructure, so a practice revolving around only two of the four pillars is not comprehensive enough.