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Forecast 2014: How to wring value from your IT budget

Stacy Collett | Sept. 24, 2013
According to Gartner, IT budgets will chug along with small but steady 2.9% average annual increases through 2014. But what will the top five areas of increased and decreased IT spending, and top business priorities?

Gartner also expects to see a huge uptick in network equipment replacements. The equipment that was purchased and installed even a year ago can't handle the growth in mobile data, Lovelock says. Further down the road, the growth in mobile usage will have a "'trickle effect' — do I have enough servers, storage, bandwidth, applications and security to handle mobile?" Lovelock says.

Big Data Still a Big Deal
Business analytics are also on the shortlist of top IT purchase plans for 2014. Spending priorities include big data, enterprise analytics, data mining and business intelligence tools.

Investments in big data technology like Hadoop and MapReduce will command 45% to 60% of the IT budget at Texas Multicore. "It's a solution that we really haven't exploited yet, and we see tremendous potential in that environment," says Havener. "So adjusting technologies and taking advantage of what it can provide will be significant. We're also very aware that it's limited in its capabilities. A lot of folks talk about how slow and how challenging it is to do a Hadoop query. But we can speed that up through in-memory and some development capabilities that we have in-house on the order of six to 12 times faster than standard Hadoop. So we see a great opportunity there."

Rounding out the top five technology purchases for 2014 are virtualization of desktops, servers, storage, networks and mobile systems, and security technologies, such as access control, intrusion prevention, malware protection and identity management tools.

While Computerworld survey takers say they will spend less on storage in 2014, Gartner predicts that storage sales will actually increase with the explosion of mobile data, big data and new types of digital files. Although the price of storage is coming down, Lovelock says, spending on storage is going up.

"Storage has one of the highest growths we're seeing across the board, at 7% growth," Lovelock says. "You can say it's just about big data, but the fact is there is a lot of data collection and duplication going on." In the healthcare industry, for example, new digital radiology and digital pathology technologies both generate data that require additional storage.

Yet the best-laid plans can always be ruined. While companies would like to firm up their 2014 budgets, there are a number of political and economic issues yet to play out this year that could impact next year's spending plans, says Forrester's Bartels.

For starters, if Congress delays raising the federal debt ceiling, "that could take a lot of wind out of sails in 2014. We're not predicting that, but we can't rule it out," he says.

There are also lingering concerns about the European economy and worries that China's economic slowdown may continue. "Those are things we [at Forrester] worry about," Bartels says. "But if cooler and wiser heads can deal with it, they won't happen."


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