Worldwide IT Market Showing Tentative Signs of Improvement
According to the newly published International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Black Book (Doc #250222), recent volatility will gradually give way to a more positive outlook for IT spending in the second half of 2014. With the U.S. and other mature economies mostly heading in the right direction and a significant commercial PC refresh cycle already underway, improvements in business confidence are set to drive a moderate infrastructure upgrade cycle over the next 12-18 months, while investments in software and services will continue to accelerate.
Worldwide IT spending is now forecast to increase by 4.5% in 2014 at constant currency, or 4.1% in U.S. dollars. A significant proportion of this growth is still being driven by smartphones IT spending excluding mobile phones will increase by just 3.1% this year in constant currency (2.8% in U.S. dollars). Aside from smartphones, the strongest growth will come from software, including rapidly expanding markets such as data analytics, data management, and collaborative applications including enterprise social networks. The 3rd platform pillars of Big Data, Social, Mobile and Cloud will continue to drive virtually all of the growth in IT spending, while spending on 2nd platform technologies will remain effectively flat.
Meanwhile, although some emerging markets remain constrained by macroeconomic and geopolitical wild cards, there is now significant pent-up demand for IT investment that will drive stronger growth next year in markets including India, Brazil, and Russia. Pent-up demand has already driven a significant rebound in both consumer and enterprise IT spending in China this year, as confidence stabilizes. While mature economies are still driving the upside in 2014, emerging markets will once again dominate in 2015.
Cold Snap and Wild Cards Impacted IT Spending, But Underlying Demand is Strong
Some IT market segments performed weaker than expected in the first quarter of 2014 (1Q14), in line with the weather-related slowdown in U.S. output and the impact of wild card events including the conflict in Ukraine. In particular, an overdue enterprise infrastructure refresh cycle was disrupted by short-term declines in business confidence. However, strong underlying demand for this investment cycle will drive improvements in the server, storage, and network infrastructure markets in the coming months.
PC Refresh Stronger than Expected in Mature Economies, Tablet Shipments Weaker
The commercial PC refresh has proven stronger than originally forecast. As a result, IDC now forecasts PC spending will increase by 3.5% in 2014 (the fastest pace since the post-financial crisis rebound of 2010). Western Europe has also seen an improvement in PC shipments, although PC spending in Europe will still be down by 1% due to average price declines. The PC cycle has already driven a market upturn in Japan, where economic growth and upcoming tax increases drove a surge in capital spending in 2013 (PC spending in Japan increased by 6% last year, but will decline by -4.5% this year).
The U.S. tablet market is now forecast to increase by just 2% this year, but will rebound to 7% growth in 2015 as the PC cycle begins to wane. Worldwide tablet spending has slowed from 29% year-over-year growth last year to 8% in 2014, but will accelerate back to double-digit growth next year (10%). Penetration rates in emerging markets such as China will continue to increase, while some enterprise spending will shift back to tablets.
Pent-Up Demand and Mobile Driving Growth in China, With Other Emerging Markets to Follow
The economic slowdown in 2013 had a negative impact on IT spending in China, but this also created a significant swell of pent-up demand that is now driving improvements in technology investment. IT spending growth in China decelerated to 8% last year but is on course for 13% growth in constant currency in 2014.
Excluding mobile phones, IT spending in China will increase by 5% this year (up from growth of just 2%, excluding phones, in 2013). Server spending in China will increase by 7% (compared to 0% in 2013), storage spending by 8% (up from 1.5% in 2013), and software by 9% (up from 7% last year), but overall market growth is still weighed down by the declining PC market.
Other emerging markets are likely to improve over the next 12 months as business confidence stabilizes. IT spending in India will increase by 15% next year, up from 8% in 2014. In Brazil, the market will accelerate from 10% growth this year to 13% next year. In Russia, where the crisis in Ukraine has damaged business and investor confidence since the beginning of the year, the market is set to decline slightly in 2014 before rebounding to 7% growth in 2015.
Mature economies have remained more stable since last year, with market growth often outpacing expectations. The U.S. IT market will increase by 4% this year, and Western Europe will maintain a 2% growth rate overall. Total worldwide IT spending will reach almost $2.1 trillion in 2014. Including telecommunications services, the worldwide ICT market will increase by 4% to $3.7 trillion, with telecom services growth of 4% driven by mobile data services and increasing broadband penetration.
PC Rebound in Mature Regions Stabilizes Market, But Falls Short of Overall Growth in the Second Quarter of 2014
Worldwide PC shipments totaled 74.4 million units in the second quarter of 2014 (2Q14), a year-on-year decline of -1.7%, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. The results reflect the smallest decline in global PC shipments since the second quarter of 2012 when declining shipments of mini notebooks combined with a surge in tablet sales to disrupt the PC market.
Despite the end of Windows XP support in early April, it appears many Windows XP migrations continue to take place. Most major vendors saw solid growth, and early indications also point to desktop shipments being stronger than expected in some areas, signaling continued business buying. The consumer side also appears stronger than expected, with growing activity among the lower-priced models as well as Chromebooks.
On a geographic basis, Europe, the United States, and Canada showed the strongest growth, reflecting more stable conditions. Japan would have joined list but for the dramatic surge last quarter and new taxes that limited second quarter growth. In contrast, emerging regions continue to see declining PC volumes as weaker economies and political issues combine to depress growth.
United States The U.S. market showed strong 6.9% year-on-year growth in the second quarter of 2014. Continuing upgrades of Windows XP systems boosted shipments in commercial portables and desktops, helping the commercial segment. At the same time, retail acceptance of emerging product categories such as Chromebooks and ultraslims helped the consumer segment to stabilize. HP continued to hold the lead and gained 2% market share while four of the top 5 vendors experienced double-digit growth for the quarter. Lenovo and Toshiba took advantage of some consumer interest in Windows 8 and a push to build up their presence in large enterprises.
EMEA The PC market in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) posted positive results in the second quarter, with an ongoing push of shipments in the commercial space driving the growth. Renewals, fueled in part by the end of Windows XP support, weighed positively on the market. Demand in the consumer market also improved and shipment levels continued to stabilize, particularly in Western Europe, while emerging markets remained constrained due to weak demand and political instability.
Japan Although the market saw a decline compared to the first quarter of 2014, when the end of support for Windows XP combined with an impending sales tax increase drove last-minute purchases, the second quarter still fared better than forecast, pushing growth just into positive territory.
Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) A faster than expected deployment of ELCOT deals in India and activity in the entry-level segment helped markets in Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) squeeze ahead of forecasts. However, shipments were still down nearly double digits year-on-year, marking the ninth consecutive quarter of decline for the region.
The newly released Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Forecast and Local Trend Report shows that many companies anticipate bringing in IT staff in the second half of the year, and the number planning to put a hold on hiring is declining. Fourteen percent of U.S. chief information officers (CIOs) plan to expand their teams in the last half of 2014. This represents a 2-point decline from the previous survey. Another 76 percent expect to hire only for open IT roles, compared to 67 percent in the first six months of the year. Eight percent of technology executives plan to put their hiring on hold through the rest of the year, down from 15 percent in the previous survey, while only 1 percent expect to reduce their IT staffing levels.
The hiring projections for the first half of 2014 are based on interviews with more than 2,300 CIOs from 23 major U.S. markets who were asked to provide a six-month hiring outlook. Hiring projections for the last six months of 2014 are based on interviews with more than 2,400 CIOs in 24 major U.S. markets.
As for recruiting technology talent, 61 percent of U.S. CIOs said it is somewhat or very challenging to find skilled IT professionals. This is a 2-point drop compared to the first half of the year. Technology executives surveyed report that it is most difficult to find skilled talent in the functional areas of applications development (17 percent), networking (17 percent) and security (12 percent).
Confidence in Business Growth and IT Investments
The Robert Half Technology survey suggests that CIOs continue to have an optimistic outlook about their companies' growth and plans for IT investments. Eighty-nine percent of CIOs reported being somewhat or very confident about their companies' growth prospects for the last six months of 2014. This compares to 88 percent for the first half of the year.
Seventy-one percent of CIOs said they are confident that their firms will invest in IT projects in the next six months. This compares to 69 percent in the first half of 2014. Most of those upcoming investments will be in hardware upgrades (44 percent) and software upgrades (21 percent), according to the Robert Half Technology survey.
Skills in Demand
Fifty-seven percent of U.S. technology executives said that network administration tops the list of skills sets in greatest demand within their IT departments. This figure is unchanged from the previous survey. Database management and desktop support followed, each with 52 percent of the response.
Phablets are generating strong consumer buying interest worldwide, particularly in emerging countries, an Accenture survey has found. Blending smartphone and tablet PC features, phablets have five-to-seven inch screen sizes larger than the four-to-five inches of conventional smartphones.
The survey revealed that 57 percent of consumers plan to buy a smartphone this year and, of those, nearly half (48 percent) prefer to buy a phablet rather than a conventional smartphone.
These findings are the latest to be released from the 2014 Accenture Digital Consumer Survey that explores consumer electronics spending and usage of 23,000 respondents in 23 countries.
The survey also revealed that consumer preferences for phablets are stronger in emerging countries than developed countries. Of the consumers planning to buy a smartphone, 67 percent in India, 66 percent in China and 65 percent in South Africa said they would prefer to buy a phablet device. Consumers in developed countries, by contrast, were less partial to buying phablets. In the United States, for example, 40 percent indicated a preference to buy a phablet. Similarly, nearly a third (30 percent) of German respondents and only 19 percent of Japans participants prefer a phablet.
Interest in buying larger screens extends to tablets
The survey also found that 44 percent of respondents are planning to buy a tablet PC this year. Of those, 72 percent prefer the full-size tablets rather than micro-mini-sized versions, compared with 20 percent who prefer the smaller versions. Eight percent did not know.
Mobile Apps Will Have a Significant Impact on Information Infrastructure
With digital business blurring the line between the physical and the digital worlds, consumer-centric mobile apps are playing an important role, according to Gartner, Inc.
Gartner predicts that, by 2015, most mobile apps will sync, collect and analyze deep data about users and their social graphs, but most IT leaders are failing to consider the deep impact that mobile apps have on their information infrastructure.
Gartner also predicts that, by 2017, wearable devices will drive 50 percent of total app interactions.
This includes desktop-based app interactions and mobile apps, with mobile apps making up the majority of these interactions.
The line between acceptable and unacceptable use of consumer data can be very thin, and it gets even thinner as the data collected becomes more detailed and personal. For example, organizations collecting biometric data through mobile apps linked to wearable devices could be tempted to monetize this data by reselling it.
These risks relating to data collected from mobile apps require organizations to rethink their governance policies and adjust their information infrastructure.
Such organizations should:
- Manage the persistency and perishability of data collected from mobile apps.
- Monitor access to and control of this data. It is important to ensure that personal data collected from mobile apps remains private, and that it is secured, anonymized and accessed according to the organization's governance policies. Proper management of user agreements and opt ins are important aspects of this.
- Control the sharing and reuse of mobile app data for other purposes.
Data from mobile apps, whether deployed on the premises or in the cloud, is not currently managed as part of an organization's information infrastructure, and data collected from mobile apps is often siloed.
For example, colocation of data from mobile apps with other application data on the premises can be a better option for use cases such as offline and near-line analysis. However, using data virtualization to combine data in the cloud with data on the premises can be a better option if colocation does not suit the governance or SLAs of a use case. Using integration-platform-as-a-service capabilities for cloud service integration can complement existing data integration strategies by moving data from the cloud to the premises, or from cloud to cloud as needed.