What the tech industry landscape will look like in 2012

13 Jan 2012

By 2020, the global ICT industry will reach revenues of US$5trn – US$1.7trn larger than today – and 80pc of the industry’s growth will be driven by third platform technologies and rapidly expanding consumption of technology in emerging markets.

IDC country manager for Ireland Keith Gaffney said the battles that will lead the ICT marketplace of 2020 will start to be won and lost in 2012. He was speaking at a breakfast briefing at the RDS this morning, the final day of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, which was hosted by BT in conjunction with Dublin Chamber of Commerce.

Gaffney said that worldwide IT spending stands at US$1.8trn, up 6.9pc on last year and similar to a strong 7pc in 2011.

Growth in 2012 will be turbo charged by emerging markets and mobile devices.

In Ireland, IT spending in 2012 will reach €6bn in 2012, up 0.8pc.

Areas of decline in Ireland include high-end servers and storage, while tablets, smartphones, cloud, virtualisation and low-end servers are growing fast.

The main risks affecting the IT industry globally include the floods in Thailand, which have hurt the PC supply chain, and of course Europe’s debt crisis. “Unravelling of the euro could take worldwide IT growth down to 2pc or less,” Gaffney said..

Mobile devices and apps

Gaffney said mobile devices will be the main winners in 2012, with 1.5bn devices set to ship this year.

Gaffney predicted that Amazon’s Kindle Fire will take nearly 20pc of the global market for media tablets.

He said 90pc of mobiles in Ireland will be smartphones in 2015.

“The mobile apps explosion will continue as the mobile platform battle approaches a climax. iOS and Android top the field, with growing Android momentum.”

He said this year will be a make-or-break year for Microsoft, RIM and HP in terms of Windows 8’s arrival, the success of BBSX and HP’s renewed focus on mobile devices.

He also said that in terms of the growing media cloud, Microsoft needs a compelling content weapon. “Microsoft needs Netflix or some media cloud,” he said.

Mobile data spending in Ireland will pass fixed data spending for the first time in 2012.

However, he warned that surging over-the-top (OTT) video traffic will spark reactions from carriers and regulators.

Cloud services

Globally, cloud services spending is set to exceed US$36bn in 2012, growing at four times the industry rate. Gaffney predicted Amazon will join the US$1bn IT vendor club this year.

He predicted that the app platform wars will intensify, with players like Amazon, IBM, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce.com and VMware vying for leadership.

Some 80pc of new apps created in 2012 will target the cloud, while 2.5pc of legacy packaged apps will move to the cloud.

He predicted that cloud apps and software-as-a-service (SaaS) acquisitions will accelerate.

Within Ireland, he said 18pc of Irish organisations are already using cloud and this will rise to 45pc in 2014.

Preferred vendors in Ireland for cloud are Google, VMware and Microsoft.

Prime drivers for cloud adoption in Ireland are cost reduction and agility.

Gaffney said the cloud ‘arm dealer’ opportunity will exceed US$23bn in 2012, growing more than 30pc.

“Cloud service platform spending will gradually shift away from self-built systems. System management software for clouds will grow as a power position, with 62pc growth in 2012.”

2012, the year of big data

The digital universe will grow to 2.7 zetabytes in 2012, up 48pc from 2011 and rocket towards 8 zetabytes by 2015.

The pressure will be on businesses to apply analytics and business intelligence appliances on top of existing databases.

He predicted a busy year for big data-driven merger and acquisitions activity, especially in areas like visual discovery, predictive analytics and Hadoop analytics.

Social business

In terms of harnessing social media, enterprise software vendors will get a lot more aggressive in this area, which will in turn drive a lot of M&A activity.

Traditional vendors like Microsoft, SAP, Oracle and IBM will reveal their hands in terms of social business tools. Oracle will drive community platforms and socialytics, for example, while IBM will deliver an “innovation spn” on social.

Facebook will not let others muscle in on its advantage and will aim to become the business-to-consumer (B2C) platform of choice.

The internet of things

Gaffney predicted that within 24 months, the number of intelligent communicating devices on the network will outnumber traditional IT devices.

These will include embedded systems, entertainment devices, appliances, industrial M2M devices and sensors.

Near field communications (NFC) will gain traction as a last mile connection while microblogging technology will allow people to ‘follow’ objects and services.

Smart cities will drive more than US$40bn worth of technology investments in 2012, with a core focus on energy, government and healthcare sectors.

Gaffney predicted that financial services companies will ramp up their use of social media beyond marketing as a way to engage customers.

Another interesting development will be how mobile commerce will force bricks-and-mortar retailers to engage in a deadly battle against ‘scan and scram’ apps by deploying in-store offer management mobile apps.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years