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Researcher Gartner predicts that global IT spending will reach $2.5 trillion in 2011, up from $2.4 trillion in 2010, a 3.1 percent gain.
Gartner (NYSE: IT) believes that IT budgets are likely to remain "timid" and "lackluster" between now and the end of 2014, when worldwide IT spending will have only grown to $2.8 trillion -- if that phrase can be applied to trillions of dollars.
The predictions were presented by Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president at Gartner and global head of research, during the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando this week, according to a company statement. Sondergaard cautioned IT managers at the event that some sectors will bounce back more quickly than others.
"Several key vertical industries, such as manufacturing and financial services will not see IT budgets recover to pre-2008 levels before 2012 or 2013," the statement added.
Sondergaard's vision wasn't all doom and gloom, however.
He outlined four technology trends that he predicted will define the future of IT -- cloud computing, as well as the business impact of "social computing," context-aware computing, and pattern-based strategies.
"We are on a one-way trip towards the IT driven intelligence society -- driven by the consumer," he said.
Cloud computing-- providing various types of software as a service (SaaS) via Internet technologies "in the cloud" -- has already started to take off, particularly with businesses.
Sondergaard also pointed the finger at social computing, but not necessarily at any one social networking service such as Facebook or Twitter, or even a particular technology. Instead, he said, there will be social change brought on by the culture and attitudes of social networking that will "pervade the enterprise."
"Social computing, not Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn, but the technologies and principals behind them will be implemented across and between all organizations, it will unleash yet to be realized productivity growth, it will contribute to economic growth," Sondergaard added.
Third is context aware computing -- for instance, combining location information with data on language, audio, video, graphics, and text to create services "not imagined today."
Fourth is what Sondergaard refers to as pattern-based strategies.
"This builds on pattern-based technologies such as social network analysis, context aware technologies and predictive analytic tools. It will allow IT leaders to seek-out patterns amidst the burgeoning information sources and model future possibilities."
Together, the four trends "will drive dramatic change in your enterprises' business model and strategy," he said. Gartner Symposium/ITxpo runs until Oct. 21.