Gartner spells out the gloom

Analyst company Gartner today outlined its revised IT spending predictions. It now predicts that global IT spending will fall 3.8% during 2009, a steeper fall than was seen in 2001, the year of the dot-com crash and the only other year to have seen a decline in IT spending.

The hardware sector will be most seriously affected. Gartner predicts that, overall, the sector will shrink by 14.9% (it previously said there would be a 4% fall). PC sales will be hit especially hard: the total dollar value of global PC shipments will drop by just over 20%, although the strengthening of the dollar plays a part in this effect. PC shipments are expected to fall 9.2%.

But servers are always expected to perform badly. “The server market looks very weak this year,” said research director Jon Hardcastle in a webinar this afternoon.

Gartner has revised its projection for enterprise software spending growth in 2009 by just over six percentage points, down to -0.3%.

“Looking at past trends, there has always been a correlation between GDP and software spending,” said Richard Gordon, Gartner’s head of global forecasting, during the webinar. “Dramatically worsening GDP predictions from the most credible [economic analysts] will therefore negatively impact overall software performance.”

There was good news, however, for vendors in spaces including virtualisation, software-as-a-service and open source software, which are seen as cost-cutting initiatives.

Web conferencing and team collaboration will see double-digit growth during 2009, according to research director Fabrizio Biscotti. “The first thing companies cut during a downturn is the travel budget,” he said.

The IT services prediction was also revised, but less dramatically – down from 0.9% growth to 1.7% contraction. “Much of IT services spending relates to mission-critical services,” Gordon said. “Spending on IT services can safely be cut only in moderation.”

In the IT services sector, consulting work was most likely to fall, Gartner says, because it relates to new projects. That trend was already apparent in Accenture’s most recent financial results.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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