The most significant IT trends of 2013 are familiar -- mobility, cloud computing, social technologies and big data -- but the new year will bring a new urgency as enterprises look for vendors to move past exploratory roadmap stages and deliver genuinely competitive products and services, says research firm IDC in its annual predictions forecast.
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In the big picture, IDC says worldwide IT spending in 2013 will exceed $2.1 trillion, up 5.7% from 2012. The biggest driver of that growth will be mobility: Sales of smart mobile devices including smartphones and tablets will grow by 20%, generate 20% of all IT sales, and drive a whopping 57% of all IT market growth. Excluding smart mobile devices, IT industry growth will be just 2.9%.
The surge in mobility will lead to mobile devices surpassing PCs as the method of choice for online access. The number of people accessing the Internet through PCs will shrink by 15 million over the next four years, while the number of mobile users will increase by 91 million. In 2015, U.S. consumers accessing the Internet through mobile devices will outnumber those using PCs to access the Internet, IDC predicts.
Another driver of industry growth is emerging markets, where IT spending is projected to grow by 8.8% to more than $730 billion, or 34% of all IT spending. The rate of growth in emerging markets is twice that of developed countries, IDC says.
As vendors work to compete more aggressively in mobility, cloud, social and big data, market-share upheaval seems inevitable.
In software, for instance, SaaS vendors will grab one or more of the top share positions in the majority of the major application software markets within the next three years, IDC says. In servers, Amazon -- the largest cloud service provider -- will become a top 2 or 3 server/virtual machines vendor by 2016, the firm predicts.
Another example is in the data center arena, where converged systems and software-defined networks (SDN) will open the door for leadership shakeups. Specifically, the SDN market is forecast to reach $3.7 billion by 2016 and account for 35% share of Ethernet switching in the data center (up from almost negligible penetration in 2012). "Major networking vendors -- including Cisco, Juniper, Brocade, and HP -- are encountering both massive risk and major new opportunities to dominate what is becoming a radically new networking landscape," IDC asserts.
Also on the horizon, according to IDC's predictions:
* Mini tablet surge: The tablet market will grow by at least 42% to more than 170 million units in 2013. Mini tablets with screens smaller than 8 inches will account for as much as 60% of unit shipments, up significantly from 33% in 2012.
* Mobile platform rationalization: If a mobile platform doesn't get at least 50% of developers interested in developing apps on it, its demise is imminent. Vulnerable platforms include Microsoft, which today has attracted about 33% of developers, and RIM, which has about 9% developer interest.
* SaaS a hot buy: IDC is predicting $25 billion in SaaS acquisitions over the next 20 months, up from $17 billion in the past 20 months.
* PaaS growth spurt: IDC is forecasting a tenfold increase in the number of industry-focused platform as a service (PaaS) offerings, which numbered fewer than 100 in 2012. More broadly focused cloud platforms, such as Salesforce.com's Force.com, Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, will become more commoditized, the firm says.
* Rise of business execs making IT decisions: By 2016, 80% of new IT investments will directly involve line-of-business executives. At least half the time, the line-of-business executive will be the lead decision maker.
* BYOD security: Even enterprise security isn't immune from the consumerization trend. Citing what it calls a "Bring your own ID" trend, IDC predicts that "many more enterprises, and the security software and services vendors that serve them, will use the identity management systems of Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and other consumer social networks and cloud services as a new foundation for enterprise authentication."
* Big data buying spree: Mergers and acquisitions in the big data area will see vendors adding more discovery, predictive analytics, and text- and rich-media analytics technologies to their portfolios.
Ann Bednarz covers IT careers, outsourcing and Internet culture for Network World. Follow Ann on Twitter at @annbednarz and check out her blog, Occupational Hazards. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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