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IT trends 2021

More investment in IT

A glimpse into the near future might make IT decision makers catch their breath. The analysts at Gartner predict that in 2021 worldwide IT expenditure on data centres, business software, end devices and IT and communication services will grow by four percent to altogether 3.8 trillion US dollars. After a lean year in 2020 this will be roughly equal to the level in 2019.

According to Gartner an especially strong recovery can be expected in business software, where budgeting in the current year could increase by 7.2 percent compared with 2020. These investments reflect the efforts of businesses worldwide to intensify their digitisation and speed up mobile working, virtual training and further education or AI-driven automation.

IT infrastructure expansion
Gartner attributes the new year’s second largest expenditure growth of 5.2 percent to the expansion of IT infrastructure and data centre capacity – hardly surprising in view of the huge volumes of data which have to be moved and evaluated at present and in future, for example for Cloud migration, Smart Data Analytics or for the development of supercomputers.

The analysts at digital consultancy Cloudflight, however, see a decline in company-owned data centres and disproportionate growth in the global public Cloud providers, the so-called hyperscalers like AWS, Google, Microsoft and Tencent.

Industry platforms
In 2021 businesses will make even greater use of platform solutions to keep pace with the essential transition to more digitisation and to increase the rate of change. In addition to Cloud platforms for IT infrastructure and application development, industry platforms in particular play a major role here, for example in industrial production or supply chain management.

The result is therefore that more and more businesses will share the same platforms with competitors from the same market segment, thus increasing the innovation and effectiveness of their core processes. Customer-specific development will play an ever-decreasing role, while agile development communities will become more important.

5G and “Intelligent Edge”
Increasing automation, telemedicine and AI mean that more processes need to take place autonomously and in real time. Technologies such as 5G and decentralised Edge Clouds form the basis for the implementation and commercial use of corresponding services and applications. This – and political pressure – is why 5G expansion continues to gain momentum. According to a study by Wind River Systems the corona pandemic has already caused over 70 percent of telecommunications businesses to accelerate the development and introductory phase of their 5G projects. 5G will continue to grow, due among other things to the further expansion of Edge Computing.

From supplier to partner
The trend towards platforms also requires a change in the relationships with the major technology suppliers: from classic supplier management to strategic partner management. In 2021 businesses will therefore revise their sourcing strategies in order to smooth the way towards “co-innovation” with major partners. Supplier contracts will more often be oriented towards increased added value, for example in terms of shorter time to market or sales growth. At the same time cloud-based contracts will contribute to greater cost transparency and faster change.

More agility
2021 will not make anything easier for IT directors and CIOs. It will still be important to cut costs and drive innovation forward in parallel. For competition is intense, and in some sectors the pandemic has even speeded up digitisation.

According to Gapgemini businesses are increasingly willing to make faster budget adjustments to market changes. The capacity for constant change and the ability to adapt to new situations – the keyword being agility – will therefore play a vital role in shaping IT strategies this year. The prerequisite for successful digitisation is a sound IT infrastructure.