Global IT industry warms up

The industry worldwide has started to grow again, fuelled by strong sales in Asia Pacific, according to statistics from the European Information Technology Observatory

Growth is returning to the global IT industry, according to new figures from the European Information Technology Observatory. Growth for this year is estimated at 4.5 percent, up from 1.2 percent in 2002.

That latter figure was only achieved because of growth in the Pacific Rim, notably China and Australia, said Jörg Schomburg, managing director, CeBIT Events Worldwide.

Predictions for 2004 are of growth between 5.5 and 6 percent, with 11 percent in the "rest of the world" (countries other than the USA, Japan and Western Europe). Schomburg said this "strong recovery" was dependent on a recovery in the general world economy.

Although the EITO report is not scheduled for release in Europe until 15 October, Schomburg disclosed the numbers with permission while briefing local officials and media about the next cycle of CeBIT trade shows in Hannover, Sydney, New York, Istanbul and Shanghai.

Wayne Lewis, director of ICT industry development at Multimedia Victoria, said the Victorian Government would again be helping local IT companies to attend CeBIT Hannover in 2004. Such grants were provided to 73 companies attending international trade fairs during the 2002-03 financial year, and those companies projected over AU$90m (£37.4m) in export sales as a result.

Some of the forecast growth in the world IT industry is expected to come from the government sector: "We believe eGovernment will herald a new cycle of growth in the IT industry as governments and their partners embrace new technologies to deliver streamlined services," said Schomburg.

"All governments in Europe suffer from not having enough money," he added, so they need to reorganise the way they operate.

Australia ranks second (behind the US) in eGovernment implementation according to a recent United Nations study, and CeBIT Australia will include a one-day eGovernment forum. "The conference will be case study-based, featuring expert practitioners of eGovernment implementations from Australia and overseas," said CeBIT Australia managing director, Jackie Taranto.