What's worrying IT professionals about the new year?

Once, it was the economy that made Poland's IT professionals nervous. Now, there's more optimism, but concerns about buyers' failure to see benefit in IT investment and the shift to software and services.

Slowing economic growth used to be IT professionals' main concern for concern. However, according to a recent survey by market research firm PMR, that's no longer the case: in the coming years, the traditional hardware-centric approach will continue to give way to more software and services buying, the analyst firm thinks.

A year ago, a survey of IT professionals working in Poland's 300 largest tech operations found 47 percent saying that tough economic conditions were the main barrier to growth for the country's IT market. This year, however, PMR's IT market in Poland report found that only 16 percent of respondents feel the same way. Instead, IT workers' concerns have switched to factors involving their customers: companies' lack of capital for IT investments (cited by 35 percent of those surveyed, up from 33 percent a year ago) and 'no awareness of benefits from IT investments by companies' (26 percent, up from 10 percent).

Respondents have actually seen the market grow compared to 2012, and that means more optimism than a year ago, PMR writes in the report. "At the moment, 89 percent [of IT] specialists believe that the value of the IT market in Poland will grow even more," it says. "This is a radical change compared to the figure from 2013 (a 41 pp hike). The average expected value increase is 8.5 percent. In total the growth rate for the process, according to the respondents, will amount to 7.1 percent."

So will 2015 be a year of milk and honey for the Central European IT sector? Perhaps not: rather, PMR thinks it will rather be a stable year, and similar to 2014.

According to Zoran Vuckovic, IT and telecoms analyst at PMR, the key trend in Poland's IT market is that buyers are switching their focus.

"One of the main specifics of the IT market in CEE is its strong orientation towards hardware, mainly due to growing wages and purchasing power of households," he told ZDNet.

"On the other hand, hardware saturation is rising, and the extending life of hardware directly translates into fewer purchases. Additionally, prices fall year on year."

Despite this, the market can expect a rise in the value of software and services, which is set to grow in a stable fashion in 2015.

"IT services and software will continue to develop faster than the hardware market in CEE by the end of 2018, although we cannot assume they will significantly outpace the sales of IT equipment.

"In our forecasts we do not anticipate that the hardware market in Poland will shrink, but its growth rate throughout the 2015-2018 period will be very low," he continues.

"For vendors, it's not only the anticipated expansion of this segment in the coming years that will turn out to be significant, but also higher margins that may be obtained compared to hardware or software sales. On the other hand, for end [user] clients, the use of various types of IT services is proving necessary for... streamlining the operation of IT systems in their companies, in order for them to efficiently support their core business."

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