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Gartner revises 2013 IT spending forecast higher

We all know that predictions, especially those to do with the information technology industry, have a way of taking a lot longer or shorter to play out than the forecasters usually consider. But journalists like me love them anyway, because they give us a sense of the way that things are trending as well as a hint of how sentiments may sway throughout the year. It’s that perception equals reality thing.

Against that backdrop, one could describe the latest IT spending forecast from Gartner as hopeful, since the firm is revising its worldwide IT spending prediction for 2013 upward. Gartner is now calling for spending of $3.7 trillion, up 4.2 percent from the last 12 months. Back in the third quarter, its researchers were calling for growth of about 3.8 percent in 2013.

One of the things that really resonated with me from the latest forecast is the optimism over “device” sales, which Gartner believes will rise 6.3 percent this year to $666 billion. That number includes personal computers, mobile devices (such as tablets), mobile phones and printers. And, for contrast, consider that growth for this segment was only projected at 2.9 percent for 2012.

On the surface of things, that’s a really high number. But, it’s actually a pretty sharp downward revision from the recent past, when Gartner was anticipating sales of $706 billion, which was about 7.9 percent growth year over year. The biggest factor in that downward revision has been increased competition in the tablet market, which is driving down average selling prices. Still, there is a silver lining: it means technology solution providers will still be supporting and integrating a far greater volume of these client devices than in the past. That’s more managed services, more data center infrastructure, more bandwidth.

For a broader perspective, here are the forecasts from the two other leading research firms: IDC is calling for a worldwide total of $2.1 trillion, up 5.7 percent; Forrester predicts $2.09 trillion, which is an increase of about 3.3 percent.

I’m not going to try to explain the wide discrepancy in growth rates, except to say that researcher uses a slightly different base and they don’t necessarily including everything that the other ones do. Gartner, for example, includes global telecommunications services and technologies in its numbers.

“Uncertainties surrounding prospects for an upturn in global economic growth are the major retardants to IT growth,” said Richard Gordon, managing vice president at Gartner, in a press release about the firm’s latest forecast. “This uncertainty has caused the pessimistic business and consumer sentiment throughout the world. However, much of this uncertainty is nearing resolution, and as it does, we look for accelerated spending growth in 2013 compared to 2012.”

So, how sentimental are you feeling about IT growth in 2013? One thing I’ve noticed throughout my close to 20 years of covering the IT industry, is that the technology solution providers who approached the market with the most positive attitude at the beginning of the year usually tend to live up to that attitude. The ones that thinking negatively, usually deliver on that.

This is not to say that your predictions shouldn’t be based on practical realities, but the way you approach a situation can make all the difference.

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