Arik Hesseldahl

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Worldwide IT Spending Growth Speeds Up, Gartner Says

Research firm Gartner has released its latest forecast for worldwide IT spending in the coming year, and at first glance it looks like good news for tech companies across the board.

The good news is that Gartner has revised its outlook upward. Companies and governments will spend $3.6 trillion on IT this year, which is more than the prior $3.4 trillion forecast, amounting to growth of 5.1 percent. Sounds great, right?

Yes, but it’s complicated, especially from the U.S. point of view. The weak dollar makes the figures look a little better than they are. In 2010, Gartner says, IT spending grew 2.2 percent, but more than half of that–1.6 percent–can be attributed to the devaluation of the dollar against other currencies. Companies and governments spending other currencies can get more dollars for their money, and so this tends to inflate the appearance of growth, Gartner’s Richard Gordon told me.

A weak dollar is generally good news for U.S. companies that do a lot of global business. U.S. products and services look more attractive to non-U.S. buyers. But in cases like this, U.S. companies end up paying more for items that get imported and for raw materials.

That’s not to say there isn’t actual growth. Gartner says spending is picking up fastest on telecom equipment, with computing hardware and enterprise software following close behind.

Spending on discretionary items like IT services and consulting is coming back the slowest. When the economic crisis hit in late 2008 and early 2009 these were the first items on the chopping block, and spending on them is only now beginning to make a comeback.


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