CeBIT Worldwide Events' chief Joerg Schomburg is upbeat about analysts' forecast last week that the global ICT market would grow between 4.5 and 6 per cent in 2004, supporting their view that demand for e-business, wireless infrastructure and e-government technologies would drive a "recovery" next year.
Addressing a CeBIT Australia and NSW Department of State and Regional Affairs briefing in Sydney, Schomburg attributed the IT economy's upheaval since the dotcom crash to "over capacity in backbone networks, and exploding telecomms debts due to overvalued acquisition campaigns".
According to research just released by the European Information Technology Observatory (EITO) for 2003, delays in European economic recovery and cautious investment in mobile and wireless technologies resulted in relatively flat growth for the ICT industry in the past year.
EITO's managing director Carola Peter said organisations were reassessing their IT investments, and most still had to reduce their over capacity. Demand for technology was becoming more selective, with ROI the key criteria for IT investment, she said.
With enterprises' focus shifting from "must have" technology to addressing their specific business needs, Schomburg said the challenge now is how to prepare for the "next wave" of ICT growth.
"There is light at the end of the tunnel. The [IT industry's] expectation is for a strong recovery in 2004, but the ICT market is dependent on how the whole world economy will recover."
Citing research from EITO, Schomburg said emerging markets which would help drive ICT growth next year were e-business, e-government services diffusion, broadband applications and services, storage, security, third generation (3G) mobile services, and business intelligence.
Schomburg said e-government technologies in particular would signal a new growth cycle in the IT industry "as governments and their partners embrace new technologies to deliver streamlined services".
According to a recent study by the United Nations, Australia is an international leader in e-government implementations ranking second behind the US in e-government initiatives and ahead of Singapore, Japan, Norway, Canada, the UK.
CeBit Australia's managing director Jackie Taranto said key local examples of e-government projects were the Tax Office's e-Tax system and the Australia Job Search and Business Entry Point, a new electronic tendering system being developed by the federal government.
According to Taranto, Asia-Pacific businesses were showing strong interest in Australia as an export destination. She said several Taiwanese companies had recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for security business deals in Australia after attending CeBIT Australia in May.
Korea and China were also strong supporters of IT investment here with both countries planning to send a delegation to CeBIT Australia's 2004 show, Taranto said.