Gartner last week predicted that IT spending will hit $3.8 trillion in 2019, saying that spending should rise in spite of global geopolitical uncertainties, most notably Brexit, the Trump presidency and an escalating trade war between the US and China.

The research house, which is the largest of its kind, said that we can expect to see a 3.2% rise compared to 2018 largely thanks to untapped areas of technology that are starting to gather pace.

John-David Lovelock, research vice president for the company, says that spending is moving from ‘saturated segments’ such as mobile phones, PCs and on-premises data center infrastructure to cloud services and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The ever-present rise of cloud means that though on-premises data centre infrastructure spend is waning, enterprise software is on the up — with Gartner anticipating an 8.5% growth rate for that sector for the year. And in its summary of the numbers, the researchers say that ‘communication services’ will get the lion’s share of the $3.8 trillion, with nearly $1.5 trillion of expected spend in that segment.

What it all means

We see in Gartner’s predictions, perhaps unsurprisingly, some of the major, overarching IT trends playing out in real time. The report highlights the Internet of Things in particular, noteworthy in part because it is helping to bolster the devices segment, as mobile takes a slight downward turn.

But also, as we’ve looked at before here, IoT is arguably the next big turning point for the way we — both as consumers and as businesses — use and buy technology and connectivity.

The tech is expected to be so pervasive that it will make mobile phones look sparsely used, with some estimates from companies like Cisco saying that IoT devices will outnumber people as anything and everything becomes connected.

That will have a huge impact on business technology spending too, where this report focuses. In a press release accompanying the report, Lovelock stated: “‘IT is no longer just a platform that enables organisations to run their business on. It is becoming the engine that moves the business.”

This change, as software eats the world — something we hear more and more often these days — and as technology and its associated processes become so completely rolled up into businesses that it is no longer distinguishable from the business itself, may best be summed up by the IoT, where connectivity adds data and understanding to every corner of every business and completely changes how we view the world.

Skills

One thing that isn’t going to change for some time though, unless artificial intelligence catches up much quicker than we expect, is that the development of these technologies, and then their use in the workplace, will still depend on the ability of skilled people.

The Gartner report mentions that too. Lovelock said: “In addition to buying behaviour changes, we are also seeing skills of internal staff beginning to lag as organisations adopt new technologies, such as IoT devices, to drive digital business.

“Nearly half of the IT workforce is in urgent need of developing skills or competencies to support their digital business initiatives. Skill requirements to keep up, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, API and services platform design and data science, are changing faster than we’ve ever seen before.”

The report starts off by saying that tech spending is going up despite the effect of stormy political seas. But these troubled times have an impact on skills, too. Trump, Brexit and the like may not be affecting tech just yet, but continued uncertainty may turn out to have an effect on investment in training and specialised education — so things look uncertain for skills as well as the tech itself.

There could be two ways of looking at what that means for the future — we can either argue that technology is a very resilient industry and that the skilled people within it remain highly valued and therefore nothing necessarily needs to change. Or, we can argue that as things become more uncertain, reskilling and upskilling is an increasingly smart idea — and it’s one which Gartner itself recommends.

Whichever way you see it, it shows once again that skilled tech workers are a rich commodity, and as we know, it is a candidate’s’ market.

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