Government IT spent to rise 0.1% in 2013

IT spending by governments across the globe is projected to total $449.5 billion in 2013, a slight decrease of 0.1 per cent from 2012, according to the latest forecast by Gartner.

The forecast includes spending by government sector organisations on hardware, software, IT services and telecommunications. Analysts revised the growth rate downward from the previous forecast of 0.2 per cent growth, as government agencies continue to struggle against weak economic development.

Despite decreased spending in some areas, a recent worldwide government IT spending priorities survey by Gartner indicated that mobile technologies, IT modernisation and cloud computing are the top three focus areas for 2013. Strong interest continues to grow in professional services and big data.

“Cloud computing, in particular, continues to increase compared with prior years, driven by economic conditions and a shift from capital expenditure to operational expenditure, as well as potentially more important factors such as faster deployment and reduced risk,” said Christine Arcaris, research director at Gartner. “Other areas, such as data centre consolidation, are lower on the list than in previous years, perhaps demonstrating that they may have met resistance in a more strategic roll-out. Vendors should be ready to reposition offerings according to these changing market dynamics.”

Survey respondents reported that they are adopting public and private cloud-based services at an increasing rate, with 30-50 per cent of organisations planning for, or having an active IT services contract within the next 12 months. While the focus initially was on software-as-a-service (SaaS) implementation, future rollouts will include infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS).

As the top priority, mobility is increasing in importance among government agencies worldwide. Demand is strongest in government agencies with more decentralised staff and those that have a large field workforce or specialised needs (such as border patrol agents, inspectors and social workers) and that benefit from mobile investments. This next wave of technology adoption will develop over time, as agencies replace existing hardware with new mobile infrastructure and devices.

The survey showed that momentum is building for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programmes, but questions continue. Of the organisations surveyed, 52 per cent said employees are allowed to bring their own smartphones to work, and 50 per cent can use their own laptop, followed by tablets at 38 per cent. Vendors must also understand how growing interest in BYOD policies and strategies may impact opportunities in the government sector. Security and governance may limit the pace and adoption.

The survey also indicated that while big data is not yet a high priority among survey respondents, it is gaining momentum. The focus on government efficiency and effectiveness means opportunity for big data/analytics, as it represents an emerging focal point for specific government modernisation.

“Government organisations have increased big data spending for improper payment systems, indicating the desire to tackle fraud, waste and abuse within agencies, as well as target upfront errors in revenue collection,” said Ms Arcaris. “While agencies are assessing how to manage, leverage and store big data, not many have addressed the challenges associated with the utilisation of content and the issues associated with merging large amounts of data onto a single platform.” Vendors must acknowledge the challenges here, and tie big data solutions back to specific agency workflows.

Gartner conducted an expansive enterprise IT spending study from June through September 2012, encompassing respondents in 13 countries (Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, the UK and the US) to help Gartner understand enterprises’ general IT spending plans for 2012 and 2013. Respondents were questioned on their general IT budget and spending plans, as well as on an expanded range of specific IT initiatives identified by Gartner.

Statement issued by Gartner

More detailed analysis is available in the report “User Survey Analysis: IT Spending Priorities in Government, Worldwide, 2013.” The report is available on Gartner’s web site at http://www.gartner.com/resId=2317416

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