Global IT spending will grow a healthy 3.8% year-over-year (YoY) to more than $3.7 trillion in 2013 as the IT industry enters a period of accelerating change in which the cloud will play a key role, says Gartner.

Gartner senior vice president and global head of research Peter Sondergaard sees the IT industry entering a “Nexus of Forces”, which include a confluence and integration of cloud, social collaboration, mobile and information. And Sondergaard sees the cloud as the carrier for three key forces. A press release about the new Gartner research describes the role of the cloud with regard to each of these three forces:  “Mobile is personal cloud, social media is only possible via the cloud, and Big Data is the killer app for the cloud. Cloud will be the permanent fixture, the foundation.”

The cloud is not merely about cost-cutting, according to Sondergaard. “The end game is not just cheap on-demand services. In fact, 90 percent of these services are still subscription based, not pay-as-you-go,” he said. “We are just at the beginning of realizing the cost benefits of cloud, but organizations moving to the cloud are also attracted by the new capabilities they do not get today. It is bringing new approaches to designing applications, specifically for the cloud, and providing more resilience by architecturing failure as a design concept. Cloud also teaches us about services and service levels, and the contrast between what the business wants for outcomes versus IT’s old methods of getting there.”

With mobile being another of the forces driving evolutionary change, Gartner forecasts that more than 1.6 billion mobile devices will be purchased worldwide in 2016. Two-thirds of the mobile workforce will own a smartphone and 40% of the global workforce will be mobile. Productivity and providing computing power and information access at exactly the right moment are the keys to unlocking and delivering benefits and added value when it comes to mobile devices, Sondergaard said, noting that iPads became more common in business than Blackberries in less than two years.

Though “consumer” social networks will reach their growth limits in the next three years, Sondergaard and Gartner see growth continuing as organizations increasingly embrace and make use of social media, bringing them into the “core of business operations. Companies are establishing social media as a discipline, Gartner points out, predicting that in three years, 10 organizations will each spend more than $1 billion on social media.

The killer app for businesses and other organizations in the “New World of Nexus,” however is “Big Data.” Looking to shed more light on exactly what is meant by the term, Sondergaard said,” “Big data is about looking ahead, beyond what everybody else sees.

Gartner sees “Big Data” generating jobs, and lots of them, both within and outside IT in coming years. But many of those positions will not be filled, at least in the U.S., where the educational system is failing to turn out adequately prepared graduates, according to Sondergaard.

“By 2015, 4.4 million IT jobs globally will be created to support big data, generating 1.9 million IT jobs in the United States,” said Sondergaard in a presentation at this year’s Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, which lasts through Oct. 25. “In addition, every big data-related role in the U.S. will create employment for three people outside of IT, so over the next four years a total of 6 million jobs in the U.S. will be generated by the information economy.“

“But there is a challenge. There is not enough talent in the industry. Our public and private education systems are failing us. Therefore, only one-third of the IT jobs will be filled. Data experts will be a scarce, valuable commodity,” Sondergaard continued. “IT leaders will need immediate focus on how their organization develops and attracts the skills required. These jobs will be needed to grow your business. These jobs are the future of the new information economy.”


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