CompTIA: Cloud, Mobility Remain Top IT Trends

Finding ways to use big data and growth in software are other parts of IT industry upswing.

Cloud computing and mobility are the two most prominent IT technology trends for 2014 (and perhaps beyond), with the packaging of big data and the continued growth of software sales rounding out the quartet, based on analysis presented in a CompTIA webcast.

Meanwhile, IT channel trends are expected to be highlighted by business transformation, re-branding the “trusted adviser” concept, training staff to keep up with changing technology and sifting through the battle between collaboration and competition among IT firms.

All of these trends could mean we’ll see growth of about 3.4 percent in the global IT space, with some projections even more optimistic, said Tim Herbert, CompTIA VP of research and market intelligence during the association’s IT Industry Outlook presentation.

The global IT industry could grow to $3.6 trillion in 2014, with the U.S. comprising almost $1 trillion, or about 27 percent, of that total.

IT services and software show the highest growth rates for the next calendar year, says Herbert, perhaps reflecting downward pressure on hardware.

“There’s growing confidence the economy has stabilized,” he says.

Technology Trends

Cloud computing, says CompTIA director of technology analysis Seth Robinson, is “the way of the future” and it offers “an opportunity for something disruptive” in the IT world. CompTIA expects more competition among public cloud providers and private cloud enablers, says Robinson, noting the private cloud space “will be very active” in 2014.

Many companies that move into the public cloud space eventually move some of their information either to another cloud, a private cloud or even back to an on-premises system. That structure makes it increasingly complicated to handle on their own, meaning outside assistance will be at a premium going forward, says Robinson.

The increased reliance on mobility, especially as wearable devices such as Google Glass and Samsung Gear smart watches, could lead to more frequent use of technologies such as smart windows for public displays and conference rooms, says Robinson.

Even so, the PC remains big business, with more than four out of every five employers saying they provide laptops for their employees. About three-quarters allow companywide desktop computer use, while about 70 percent pay for employee smartphones and just less than half foot the bills for employees’ tablets.

The packaging of so-called Big Data will mark another important trend in the year ahead, says Robinson, who also expects to see software continue to be an important part of an IT provider’s bottom line, with Gartner predicting a 6.8 percent growth this year.

Still, the Lenovo purchases show hardware will still play a key role in 2014, says Robinson.

IT Channel Trends

Business transformation will move more to the forefront in 2014, says CompTIA director of industry analysis Carolyn April. About 64 percent of firms say they’ll realize moderate growth in managed services in the next five years and another 17 percent will see high growth (75 percent or more) in managed services over that time frame. That structure can get complicated, says April.

“You’re nurturing two different types of businesses,” she says. “It’s not a simplistic way to operate, but you’re able to serve a variety of needs for your customers who are looking for a one-stop shop or just a variety of customers.”

Because younger employees are more comfortable vetting their technology purchases on their own, the need for IT companies as the proverbial “trusted adviser” has diminished, says April. With Millennials outnumbering Baby Boomers in the workforce within the next five years, “that will flip the channel,” she says. That means a shift in purchase power away from the IT department or CIO to the CFO, department heads or even the marketing departments.

“That’s a very different conversation,” says April. “It needs to be less techy and more business-oriented.” That means retraining the sales staff to sell products and services in a different way.

Today’s IT companies also need to remain on top of the ever-changing technology landscape, including unified communications, big data, cloud computing and mobility, says April. The other issue will be figuring out which companies in the IT space (and beyond) represent possible partners and which should be considered competition. With the splintering of the IT market, that becomes increasingly difficult and could change often depending on the goal or customer.

Related: CompTIA’s Take on Microsoft Exhibiting at InfoComm 2014

Related Video—InfoComm executive director David Labuskes discusses how AV-IT convergence will play out in 2014.