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Global IT spending to hit almost $4 trillion this year — Gartner

26 Jan 2021

Global IT spending will reach US$3.9 trillion in 2021, according to Gartner, representing a growth of 6.2% year-on-year. 

This is a marked improvement from last year, where IT spending declined by 3.2% in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced IT teams to prioritise mission-critical infrastructure over IT spending.

Gartner says the enterprise software segment is projected to have the strongest rebound after 2020, growing by 8.8%. Spending on devices will also see decent growth this year at 8%, and is expected to reach $705.4 billion in IT spending.

“CIOs have a balancing act to perform in 2021 — saving cash and expanding IT,” says Gartner research vice president John-David Lovelock.

“With the economy returning to a level of certainty, companies are investing in IT in a manner consistent with their expectations for growth, not their current revenue levels. 

“Digital business, led by projects with a short time to value, will get more money and board level attention going into 2021.”

The push to accelerate digital transformation under the spectre of COVID-19 will also accelerate IT spending well into the future. Gartner predicts global spending on remote working to total $332.9 billion this year, a rise of 4.9% year-on-year.

“There are a combination of factors pushing the devices market higher,” says Lovelock.

“As countries continue remote education through this year, there will be a demand for tablets and laptops for students. 

“Likewise, enterprises are industrialising remote work for employees as quarantine measures keep employees at home and budget stabilisation allows CIOs to reinvest in assets that were sweated in 2020.”

Lovelock says organisations that prioritise emerging technologies and digital transformation will fare well in the medium term.

“Digital business represents the dominant technology trend in late 2020 and early 2021 with areas such as cloud computing, core business applications, security and customer experience at the forefront. 

“Optimisation initiatives, such as hyperautomation, will continue and the focus of these projects will remain on returning cash and eliminating work from processes, not just tasks,” says Lovelock.

Despite the encouraging statistics for this year, it is unlikely that global IT spending will return to 2019 levels this year — that is projected to happen in 2022. 

“COVID-19 has shifted many industries’ techquilibrium,” says Lovelock. 

“Greater levels of digitalisation of internal processes, supply chain, customer and partner interactions, and service delivery is coming in 2021, enabling IT to transition from supporting the business to being the business. 

“The biggest change this year will be how IT is financed, not necessarily how much IT is financed.”