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Gartner IT Spending Forecast Shrinks

Gartner's newest forecast is more pessimistic than what InformationWeek heard when we surveyed 605 IT decision-makers on IT spending plans in October 2011.
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Global IT spending growth in 2012 will only reach 3.7%, according to research firm Gartner, a downward adjustment from the firm's Q3 2011 dollar growth forecast of of 4.6%.

Gartner attributes its reappraisal to flagging economic growth around the world, the eurozone debt crisis, and the effect of last year's flooding in Thailand, which continues to limit the production of hard disk drives (HDD).

"We expect all four major technology sectors, computing hardware, enterprise software, IT services, and telecommunications equipment and services to experience slower IT spending growth in the coming year than previously forecast," Gartner Research VP Richard Gordon said in market analysis published on Monday.

Gartner sees the computing hardware sector experiencing the most significant slowdown, due to constrained HDD supplies through the first six months of 2012 and to cautious spending and political uncertainty, particularly in Western Europe.

Gartner's forecast appears to be somewhat more pessimistic than what InformationWeek heard from the 605 IT decision-makers that we surveyed in October 2011.

[ Read InformationWeek's Outlook 2012 Survey. ]

While there's plenty of caution to be seen--30% of companies expect a hiring freeze despite growing interest in data center, social, and tablet technologies--some 56% of InformationWeek survey respondents said they anticipate increased IT spending while 16% expect cuts. Two years ago, only 46% of companies foresaw increased spending while 24% projected slashed spending.

And the hiring picture looks better too, albeit modestly. Two years ago, only 14% of companies were hiring while 18% were firing. Today, some 25% see expanded hiring while only 9% expect cutbacks. A larger portion still, 30%, see a hiring freeze while 36% are hiring only to fill vacated positions.

Although constrained HDD availability may well limit sales of computers among companies, the sales challenge facing PC makers could work to the advantage of tablet makers, since tablets use flash memory rather than HDD storage. Last year, 55% of InformationWeek survey respondents either disagreed or strongly disagreed that a significant number of customers would interact with their companies using tablets.

But our more recent survey indicates that figure has declined to 37%. Clearly, tablets are becoming more meaningful to organizations, even if some 20% of respondents in both 2010 and 2011 said they have no idea what their organization's tablet strategy should be.

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