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Top Five Drivers of Business Technology in 2012

International Data Corporation (IDC) had already predicted that the next wave of business technologies would begin its transition into the mainstream during 2011.

Today, spending on these technologies is growing at about 18 percent per year and is expected to account for at least 80 percent of business technology spending growth between now and 2020.

"The industry's shift to the 3rd Platform will accelerate in 2012, forcing the industry's leaders to make bold investments and fateful decisions," said Frank Gens, senior vice president and chief analyst at IDC.

Overall, IDC now forecasts that worldwide IT spending will grow by 6.9 percent year over year to $1.8 trillion in 2012. As much as 20 percent of this total spending will be driven by five technologies that are reshaping the business landscape -- smartphones, media tablets, mobile networks, social networking, and big data analytics.

Meanwhile, emerging markets (defined as all markets except North America, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand) will drive more than half of all IT spending growth worldwide in 2012, led by the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) and a handful of other fast-growing markets like Indonesia, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia.

The growing importance of these markets is reflected in IDC's prediction that China will surpass Japan as the world's second largest IT market sometime in the course of the year.

2012 will also be the Year of Mobile Ascendency as mobile devices (smartphones and media tablets) surpass PCs in both shipments and spending and mobile apps, with 85 billion downloads, generate more revenue than the legacy mainframe computer market.

The mobility market will see heated competition in 2012 as Microsoft joins the crucial battle for dominance in the mobile operating system (OS) market and the Amazon Kindle Fire challenges the Apple iPad in the media tablet market.

Similarly, IDC believes that new mobile devices with "good enough" capabilities (think "smartphone lite") will challenge the current device leaders on price and functionality in key emerging markets -- such as China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil.

Competition in cloud services will escalate in 2012, as the strategic focus shifts from building infrastructure to the creation of application platforms and the development of multifaceted ecosystems.

Social networking technologies -- especially where they are being accelerated by mobile technologies -- will be recognized as a mandatory component in every major enterprise IT vendors' strategy.

IDC expects a number of major software vendors to make acquisitions in the "social business" category while others continue to expand their community platforms.

Finally, Big Data will earn its place as the next must-have competency in 2012 as the volume of digital content grows to 2.7 zettabytes (ZB) -- that's up 48 percent from 2011.

Over 90 percent of this information will be unstructured (e.g., images, videos, MP3 files, and files based on social media and Web-enabled workloads) -- full of rich information, but challenging to understand and analyze.

As businesses seek to squeeze high-value insights from this data, IDC expects to see offerings that more closely integrate data and analytics technologies, such as in-memory databases and BI tools, move into the mainstream.

And, like the cloud services market, 2012 is likely to be a busy year for Big Data-driven mergers and acquisitions as large IT vendors seek to acquire additional functionality.

IDC also predicts that 2012 will be a notable year in other areas:
  • Mobile data network spending will exceed fixed data network spending for the first time.
  • 80 percent of new commercial enterprise apps will be deployed on cloud platforms.
  • 15 percent of new mobile apps will be based on HTML5 by year's end.
  • Vendors from emerging markets, such as Huawei and China Telecom, will make an aggressive push into developed markets, including the U.S. market.
  • The number of intelligent, communicating devices on the network will outnumber traditional computing devices by almost 2 to 1 within next 24 months, changing the way we think -- and interact -- with each other and devices on the network.

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