Enterprise IT spending up in MEA says Gartner

Cloud, big data, social media and mobility to shape future of IT in the region

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Enterprise IT spending up in MEA says Gartner Enterprise IT spending will be shaped by factors like mobility and cloud, by CIOs need to be aware of the issues and required skills around these, says Sondergaard.
By  Mark Sutton Published  February 27, 2012

Enterprise IT spending in the Middle East and Africa is expected to rise by 6.3% in 2012, up from Euros 66bn ($88.5bn) in 2011 to Euros 70bn ($93.8bn), according to Gartner.

Growth rates will slow however, as many countries already reached maximum growth rates.

The banking and securities industry will be the fastest growing sector, especially in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries, as Islamic banking continues to develop as a business sector, while transportation and healthcare providers industries will also see a similar growth rate.

"In 2011, the growth rates across the Middle East and Africa region were in double-digit figures. As a consequence, 2012 will be hampered more, and top growth rates will be limited to those countries that didn't exploit their economies last year," said Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president at Gartner and global head of Research. "Four forces of technology: cloud, social media, mobile and information, will equally impact IT organizations and technology providers in the Middle East. However, we believe that the market for cloud services, the lack of skills to deal with big data and the explosion in information could limit changes in organizations in the Middle East."

Speaking at the Gartner CIO Leadership Forum, Sondergaard discussed a number of emerging trends in the industry and in the GCC region in particular.

Cloud computing could see an unlikely boost worldwide from the floods that devastated Thailand's hard drive output, Sondergaard said. With global supplies of hard drives likely to be impacted for at least another six months, the industry is suffering from a shortage of drives, and the overall cost per terabyte has gone up. This in turn is driving IT decision makers to look at doing more with the servers that they already have, through virtualization, or sourcing cloud infrastructure services, instead of buying more servers with costly storage.

"[Hard drive shortages] will fuel short term interest in virtualization, and it will increase the interest in cloud infrastructure services across the region, and you will start seeing more and more interest, beyond the private cloud implementations that have dominated in the region, and you will start to see more local providers, looking at offering more and more localized cloud services in the infrastructure space," Sondergaard said.

There are still challenges to cloud that are faced globally, such developing security solutions to secure the cloud, issues around data location, and challenges of integration of data, and the lack of a legal framework to say who is accountable if something goes wrong, which Sondergaard says is something that has yet to be drawn up anywhere in the world.

The emerging in-memory computing model, which is being spearheaded by the likes of SAP and Oracle does offer some powerful potential for companies to gain more value from growing volumes of data, said Sondergaard, but with various technologies under development, he said it will be ten years before in-memory is mature.

In the mobile space, many organizations are not prepared for the demands that will be put on them in terms of managing mobile devices, and making sure that they are able to deliver their business applications via mobile platforms.

"We are in a post-PC era, but most IT departments are not at all ready to handle this. How do you manage the bring your own technology concept?" Sondergaard said.

In terms of demand, Sondergaard said that enterprises would be faced with a huge growth in mobile devices, with more lightweight, mobile operating system devices deployed than full PC operating system devices within two years time, and a global cumulative install base of 918m tablet devices by end of 2015.

Both internal and external users will therefore expect to have the same access to applications and information via mobile devices as they have from a desktop PC.

In turn, this means the IT departments will have to develop or access new skill sets for delivering mobile applications, and also adopt an ‘apps' mindset and delivery model to meet mobile demand, which is expected to see four out of five IT projects focusing on lightweight operating systems within three years time.

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