Hitachi: New growth cycle will accelerate IT spending

Firms are ready to spend cash on everything from networked storage to interactive screens, says the electronics giant

Europe's businesses are poised to invest significant sums of money in new technology as they prepare for the beginning of a new economic growth cycle, according to Hitachi.

Announcing its plans for this year's CeBIT trade show, the electronics and computing giant predicted on Wednesday that 2004 would see a new phase of growth-led investment, with companies upgrading their whole IT infrastructure.

"The technology investment decisions made during 2004 will define Europe’s corporate growth over the next economic cycle," said Kazuo Furukawa, chief executive of Hitachi's information and telecommunication systems group.

"Having learnt from the excesses of the 1990s, companies will balance investment in cutting-edge technology with minimising risk by working with established suppliers that provide breadth and longevity," Furukawa predicted, adding that IT companies that want to benefit from this potential spending spree will need to embrace concepts such as open standards.

Hitachi predicts that this surge in IT spending will cover areas as distinct as enterprise storage systems, video conferencing kit and interactive displays.

Several tech firms have recently made upbeat projections for the year ahead, and a mood of optimism appears to be spreading through the IT sector at present.

CeBIT, the world's largest IT trade show, will take place between 18 and 24 March this year. Hitachi says the event, which normally sees the launch or first appearance of many hundreds of new products and services, will be a "pivotal point" in Europe's next economic growth cycle.

Hitachi says it will show off its CMP5500E 55-inch plasma monitor -- the first time it will have been exhibited in Europe -- as well as launching new plasma monitors, projectors and a DVD camcorder.

On the enterprise side, the firm expects to demonstrate its network storage and optical-networking products.