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Digital Darwinism: How the Trailblazers Gain Momentum

When we look back throughout history, market disruptions to the status quo create challenges for the many unprepared executives and opportunities for the few leaders that are able to envision a new environment that's free from the limitations of the past.

The Information Technology (IT) sector is essential to digital transformation within the enterprise. That said, we're about to witness the growing distinction between the visionary leaders and organizations, versus those that try to follow along and keep up with the trailblazers.

Ongoing IT Investment Strategies

Worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.4 trillion in 2020 -- that's a decline of 8 percent from 2019, according to the latest global market study by Gartner.

The coronavirus pandemic economic effects are causing traditional CIOs to prioritize spending on technology and services that are deemed 'mission-critical' over initiatives aimed at growth or transformation. Few will have the foresight to see the upside potential during the recovery.

"CIOs have moved into emergency cost optimization which means that investments will be minimized and prioritized on operations that keep the business running, which will be the top priority for most organizations through 2020," said John-David Lovelock, vice president at Gartner.

According to the Gartner assessment, market recovery will not follow previous patterns as the forces behind this recession will create both supply-side and demand-side shocks as the public health, social and commercial restrictions begin to lessen.

All IT segments will experience a decline in 2020, with devices and data center systems experiencing the largest drops in spending.

However, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spur remote working, sub-segments such as public cloud services will be a bright spot in the forecast, growing 19 percent in 2020.

Gartner's analysts believe that cloud-based telephony and messaging and cloud-based conferencing will also see high levels of investment, growing 8.9 percent and 24.3 percent, respectively.

"In 2020, some longer-term cloud-based transformational projects may be put on hiatus, but the overall cloud spending levels Gartner was projecting for 2023 and 2024 will now be showing up as early as 2022," said Mr. Lovelock.

Outlook for Strategic IT Investment Leadership

Gartner says that IT spending recovery will be slow through 2020, with the hardest-hit industries -- such as entertainment, air transport and heavy industry -- taking over three years to come back to 2019 IT spending levels.

Gartner believes the eventual recovery requires a 'change in mindset' for most organizations. There's no miraculous outcome for the majority of short-sighted organizations. I believe that those who choose to cut-back excessively may become mortally wounded, unable to fully recover from their overreaction.

In contrast, the forward-thinking bold market leaders will benefit from the apparent decline of their less progressive peer group. Anticipating the need to adapt to market disruption and then embracing change is difficult for some, and impossible for many C-suites. The growing trend of Digital Darwinism is inevitable during the recovery.

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