IT industry business confidence remains flat

IT companies express tempered optimism heading into the first quarter of the year, though longer-term prospects look more promising.

CompTIA projects a worldwide IT industry growth rate of 4.5 percent in 2012, with upside potential of 7.6 percent. The forecast for the U.S. market is slightly lower. IT industry executives are most bullish on IT services and software sales this year.

“We may see modest improvement in 2012 but it likely won’t be drastically different from 2011,” said Tim Herbert, vice president, research, CompTIA.

The quarterly CompTIA IT Industry Business Confidence Index for Q1 remains flat, inching up to 52.1 on a 100-point scale from 51.9 during Q4 2011. The index is an aggregation of three metrics: opinions of the U.S. economy, the IT industry and one’s company.

The economy component of the index continues to negatively impact the overall reading. The spread between the rating of the economy and the rating of the IT industry has consistently exceeded 16 points.

“The two steps forward, one step backward pattern experienced during much of 2011 has conditioned many businesses to expect a dose of bad news with any good news,” Herbert said. “Among IT firms, concerns about weak consumer and corporate demand; downward pressure on margins; access to capital; and government regulation continue to weigh on business confidence.”

Trends to watch in 2012

In its 2012 outlook for the IT industry, CompTIA identified 12 trends to watch that will make their mark on the IT industry and the broader economy in the upcoming year.

At a macro level, disintermediation and automation will touch new areas, further reducing layers of complexity while improving efficiencies. Many organizations will reap the benefits of this innovation, although some will inevitably lag in adoption, potentially resulting in a more pronounced enterprise digital divide.

The technology outlook is one of momentum and continuation. Cloud computing, mobility and social technologies will become more capable, more business-ready and more disruptive.

Big data will get even bigger, and more usable. Better data management, mining and predictive analytics tools will enable organizations to increasingly realize more benefits from the volumes of data they’ve collected, but have been unable to efficiently use.

Ongoing economic stresses, shifts in customer buying patterns and the growing “everything-as-a-service” approach to IT are pushing the channel to explore new business models, product mixes and partner relationships. Many IT firms continue to explore business transformation options, such as transitioning from transactional product and service sales to a recurring revenue model. Additionally, market forces have induced greater and deeper specialization across verticals, such as the healthcare market, and technology solutions bundles, such as unified communications.

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