STAMFORD, CT – Worldwide IT spending is forecast to total $3.49 trillion in 2016, down 0.5% over 2015, says Gartner. The forecast is down from the research firm's previous outlook of 0.5% growth, published last quarter.
Lower sales of devices will more than offset higher demand by data systems, the firm added.
"There is an undercurrent of economic uncertainty that is driving organizations to tighten their belts, and IT spending is one of the casualties," said John-David Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner. "Concurrently, the need to invest in IT to support digital business is more urgent than ever. Business leaders know they need to become digital businesses or face irrelevance in a digital world. To make that happen, leaders are engaging in tough cost optimization efforts in some areas to fund digital business in others."
The most evident results of these optimization efforts are in the switches in spending between assets and services. "Most traditional IT now has a digital service twin: license software has cloud software; servers have infrastructure as a service, and cellular voice has VoLTE," Lovelock said. "Things that once had to be purchased as an asset can now be delivered as a service. Most digital service twin offerings change the spending pattern from a large upfront payment to a smaller reoccurring monthly amount. This means the same level of activity has a very different annual spend."
The device market (PCs, ultramobiles, mobile phones, tablets and printers) is forecast to decline 3.7% in 2016. The smartphone market is approaching global saturation, slowing growth. The PC and ultramobile markets are expected to decline. The underlying reasons are a combination of factors and are geography-specific, and the worsening economic conditions in many countries only serve to amplify the impact of these factors, says Gartner.
Data center systems' spending is projected to reach $175 billion in 2016, up 2.1% year-over-year. This top-level relative stability masks some changes within the segments; enterprise network equipment had a stronger-than-anticipated 2015 as a result of network upgrades, and this is expected to carry on into 2016. The external-controller-based storage segment continues to suffer from ongoing challenges. In the server segment, demand from hyperscale buyers is expected to reduce in 2016, particularly in regions that are suffering from economic challenges, such as Eurasia. The mainframe refresh, which benefited the market in 2015, is expected to abate in 2016, also inhibiting the overall growth figures.
Global enterprise software spending is on pace to total $321 billion, up 4.2% from 2015. The operating system forecast has been downgraded, reflecting Gartner's expectation for further delays in the adoption of Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016. However, it is the key emerging markets, particularly Latin America, that face escalating political and economic challenges that are responsible for the slow growth. Organizations in those regions must balance cost-cutting with growth opportunities during times of economic concern, according to the research firm.
Spending in the IT services market is expected to return to growth in 2016, totaling $929 billion, up 2.1% year-over-year. A stronger outlook for Japan and India is nearly balanced by a weaker outlook in Brazil, China and South Korea, based on challenging economic and political conditions in Brazil, and government actions and weakening economic conditions in China and South Korea.
Telecom service spending is projected to decline 2% in 2016, with spending reaching $1.4 trillion. Continuing economic downturns in major markets such as Russia and Brazil are dampening spending in both fixed and mobile voice, and a slight slowdown in China's growth is affecting consumer confidence and eroding spend in fixed voice services. In enterprise services, conditions in these same three major markets are leading to consolidation among businesses (reducing connections and spend); however, mobile data spending is a bright spot, with accelerating growth driven by improved pricing on bandwidth, mobile app and 4G/LTE network availability.