International Data Corp's crystal ball has revealed that a 3 percent growth is expected for the next operating period for the IT markets. Furthermore, the sustained improvement in business confidence will translate into an improved period of spending on IT products and services.
Three key areas that the IDC believes will affect the general Australian business and IT markets include a general improvement in the enterprise space and overall economy, rapid movement to extreme operational efficiency resulting in more packaging of off-the-shelf technologies and services, and the emergence of a customer oriented IT world.
Some of the top market trends and technologies that IDC Australia expects to see this year include a crucial year for Hutchison as it test further its -if you build it, they will come" theory on 3G. 2004 will determine whether the anticipated nationwide 3G market of 2005 will become a reality. This year will also be critical for the other three carriers as they learn to adapt from the experiences of Hutchison.
IDC also sees that offshore services will have an increasing influence on the direction of the Australian IT services market. Although IDC believes this issue is a clear threat to the local IT services industry in the coming years, the reality is that only 1 percent of the IT services market is delivered from offshore. IDC suggests that vendors need to hire the right skills offshore while minimising the impact on employee morale in Australia, and that global delivery framework should be refined to offer offshore as a seamless component for any new engagement. But regardless of this, IDC thinks that 2004 will be a year where organisations debate and assess the viability of offshore services, making it a disruptive force in the local IT market.
A launching of converged devices is also expected this year as the skyrocketing popularity of cellular voice-enabled PDAs and smartphones began their onslaught at the expense of both conventional PDAs and traditional mobile phones.
"Although PDAs will remain the most common mobile data devices used by Australian businesses, converged devices are showing great promise as the future mobile data form factor of choice," commented Landry Fevre, IDC Australia and New Zealand telecommunications research program manager. From a mobile phone market perspective, converged devices currently make up 1 in 10 mobile phones sold but that proportion is forecast to double within the next 5 years.
And finally, IDC foresees that as competitive pressures increase, technology providers will be tempted to define their markets narrowly by individual product categories or subcategories. Australian small-to-medium enterprise customers are seeking more comprehensive solutions rather than specific product specification benchmarks. PCs, peripherals, and LANs can be viewed as the comprehensive IT environment maintained by a small business to support an increasingly diverse mix of applications. By viewing a product purchase decision in this larger context, technology suppliers can distinguish themselves from competitors. Channel partners can play an important role both before and after purchase to ensure that SMEs understand how expanding their portfolio of advanced technologies will deliver new benefits.