Tuesday, 01 July 2014 06:41

Australian IT growth less than inflation rate Featured

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Total spending on all IT and communications hardware, software and services in Australia will reach $76 billion this year, up 2.3% on 2013.

The modest growth rate is actually a decline – the consumer price index (CPI) in Australia is currently 2.9%, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

But Australia is doing better than the rest of the world. Analyst group Gartner says worldwide IT spending is on pace to total US$3.7 trillion in 2014, a 2.1% increase from last year. This figure is down from earlier projections of 3.2% growth. The slower outlook for 2014 is attributed to a reduction in growth expectations for devices, data centre systems and to some extent IT services.

IT spending in the Asia Pacific region is forecast to reach US$746 billion in 2014, up 3.0% from 2013, also revised downward from 4.4% in the previous forecast.

“Price pressure based on increased competition, lack of product differentiation and the increased availability of viable alternative solutions has had a dampening effect on the short term IT spending outlook,” said Gartner’s Richard Gordon

“2015 through 2018 will see a return to ‘normal’ spending growth levels as pricing and purchasing styles reach a new equilibrium. IT is entering its third phase of development, moving from a focus on technology and processes in the past to a focus in the future on new business models enabled by digitalisation.”

The Gartner Worldwide IT Spending Forecast has become the industry’s most credible indicator of major technology trends across the hardware, software, IT services and telecom markets.

The devices market (including PCs, laptops, mobile phones, tablets and printers) is forecast to grow in 2014, but not as much as predicted in the previous quarter’s forecast, reaching US$685 billion, just a1.2% increase from 2013. This is due to lower price points expected across mobile phones and tablets.

As tablet penetration reaches 50% in US households, sales of high-end tablets will decrease, with the next wave of adopters more attracted to lower priced utility tablets. The result is the mix of tablets shifting from basic tablets to utility tablets resulting in lower price points.

Data centre systems spending is projected to reach US$140 billion in 2014, a miniscule 0.4% increase from 2013. Constrained spending levels continue to negatively impact the revenue opportunity for data centre systems, particularly with external controller-based (ECB) storage. ECB storage spending is suffering from the combined effects of underutilised systems in the installed base, as well as lower-cost alternative architectures and cloud-based storage.

The server market also shows weakness as enterprises migrate away from high-cost platforms toward lower-cost alternatives. The hyperscale segment, primarily driven by consumer-oriented services, does provide some positive drivers to the market, albeit for very low-cost platforms, which further impacts overall spending levels on data center systems.

Gartner forecasts IT services to total US$967 billion in 2014, up 3.8% from 2013. Following weak vendor performance in 2013 across multiple geographies and segments, modestly improved spending is expected through 2014.

IT outsourcing is growing slower than expected as sharply reduced pricing by the largest vendors is impacting the cloud storage services market. In addition, public cloud services are proving increasingly cannibalistic to more traditional data center outsourcing services. Implementation services are also growing slower than expected as risk-averse buyers remain focused on smaller, safer projects and some of the largest sellers remain focused on maintaining margins over growing revenue.

In the enterprise software market, spending is on pace to total $321 billion, a 6.9% increase from 2013. Slightly increased growth expectations for infrastructure software is balanced out by slightly lower growth expected for applications software.

Within infrastructure, the database management system (DBMS) software market is expected to have strong growth as DBMS adoption is driven by big data and digitalisation initiatives. Slower growth is expected in the applications market, specifically office suites and digital content creation (DCC), which are being impacted by slow PC sales and the rapid move to cloud-based offerings by many organisations and professionals.

Telecom services spending is projected to grow 0.7% in 2014, with spending reaching $1,635 trillion. Voice average revenue per user (ARPU) will decline by about 10% annually through 2018 because of a decline in consumer use of voice services — particularly among prepaid users.

“Increased competition between communication services providers is leading to price competition,” said Gordon. “Emerging low-cost or free/advertisement-subsidised mobile data services and low-cost services from mobile virtual network operators that target less-lucrative segments are impacting ARPU more than initially expected."

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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