Could 2013 IT Budgets be the year of contingency plans? With IT departments searching for cost savings, many are designing budgets that will shrink or expand depending on the global economy. That’s not to say business won’t be spending money on IT. According to Gartner, worldwide spending on IT will reach $3.7 trillion in 2013. This is propelled by an increase in big-data technology and cloud computing spending; both initiatives to help business cut costs. This article will look at budget trends, particularly around cloud computing for 2013.

Everyone is looking to the year ahead in technology trying to find out how to save money and where they should invest. By now everyone has been introduced to the cloud in some form, so it’s no surprise to find that this year’s hot topic is cloud computing.

The cloud is already a force to be reckoned with on the business technology scene. IT executives, vendors and analysts are trying to keep up with all the trends to determine what it means for the future ahead. One trend that many are already seeing is that IT departments are moving away from traditional process automation projects towards more strategic business intelligence, collaboration and customer-facing technologies. Research by Computer Weekly reveals, that 54% of IT organizations plan to increase their spending on public cloud services in 2013 in a drive to make the IT departments more flexible and efficient.

Companies are cautiously optimistic about the year ahead, but they are still playing it safe, as far as their IT budgets are concerned. According to Computerworld’s Forecast 2013 survey, the percentage of respondents who said they are seeing an increase in their IT budgets was higher in this year’s survey than it was last year: 43% versus 36%. And 64% reported that they plan to make a major IT purchase or upgrade in the next 12 months, up from 60% last year. However, many feel that CIOs should look beyond IT.

At this year’s Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, Peter Sondergaard, senior VP at Gartner, had some words of advice for CIOs, “Every budget is an IT budget.” The message makes sense as the influences of mobile, cloud computing, social networking and big data move through the corporate marketplace. For example, marketing departments are spending on social networks, sales departments are signing up on cloud-based CRMs, and individuals are signing up for Dropbox accounts; these are all examples of the spread of technology budgets outside of IT. The seeping of technology beyond the confines of IT is not new; what is new is the acceleration of spending. Sondergaard says, by 2018 manufacturing (for example) will spend 90% of their technology budget outside of IT. Major growth drivers include big data projects, cloud computing and mobile. Worldwide IT spending will surpass $4 trillion by 2015. But while budget forecasts are just an educated guess at spending, the trends in technology are evident. In Computer Weekly’s research, 75% of IT organizations plan to invest in developing mobile applications next year, reflecting the growing interest in companies giving their employees access to work-based systems on the move. They also say spending on mobile application development will grow by 50%, making it nearly 2% of IT expenditures. Although they say the true figure is likely to be higher, as it does not include spending by marketing departments on social media projects without the IT department’s involvement.

Gartner also predicts more cloud brokerages. They say IT organizations will increasingly be assuming internal “cloud services brokerage” roles – overseeing the provisioning and consumption of heterogeneous and often complex cloud services for “their internal users and external business partners.”

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