Worldwide IT spending to grow 8.4% to $4 trillion in 2021 — Gartner

According to Gartner, a major factor for the growth in IT spending across the globe in 2021 will be funds for new digital business initiatives more frequently coming from from business departments outside IT, and charged as a cost of revenue or cost of goods sold (COGS).

All IT spending segments are forecast to have positive growth through 2022, and the highest growth will come from devices (14%) and enterprise software (10.8%), as organisations shift their focus to providing a more comfortable, innovative and productive environment for their workforce.

“IT no longer just supports corporate operations as it traditionally has, but is fully participating in business value delivery,” said John-David Lovelock, distinguished research vice-president at Gartner.

“Not only does this shift IT from a back-office role to the front of business, but it also changes the source of funding from an overhead expense that is maintained, monitored and sometimes cut, to the thing that drives revenue.”

In particular, the increased focus on the employee experience and wellbeing are propelling technology investments forward in areas such as social software and collaboration platforms, and human capital management (HCM) software.

Although optimisation and cost savings efforts isn’t expected to disappear as economic outlooks becomes more certain, CIOs are set to focus on completing digital business plans that are aimed at enhancing, extending and transforming value proposition.

“Last year, IT spending took the form of a ‘knee jerk’ reaction to enable a remote workforce in a matter of weeks,” said Lovelock.

“As hybrid work takes hold, CIOs will focus on spending that enables innovation, not just task completion.”

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Regional and industrial differences

Pandemic recovery across countries, vertical industries and IT segments will still vary significantly, prompting a K-shape economic recovery, according to Gartner’s forecast.

In terms of sectors, banking and securities and insurance spending will closely resemble pre-pandemic levels as early as 2021, while retail and transportation won’t see the same recovery until closer to 2023.

Regionally, North America and Western Europe are both expected to recover in late 2021, while Latin America is expected to recover in 2024, and Greater China has already surpassed 2019 IT spending levels.

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