Worldwide IT spending is projected to total (USD) $3.7 trillion in 2018, an increase of 4.5% from 2017, according to the latest forecasts from Gartner.
The research organisation says some of the main drivers of growth involve projects in digital business, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), and progression from big data to algorithms, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).
Enterprise software is also expected to continue its strong growth, with worldwide software spending projected to grow 9.5% in 2018, and it will grow another 8.4% in 2019 to total $421 billion.
Gartner research vice president John-David Lovelock says that while there is some uncertainty in the market, investment will remain steady.
"Global IT spending growth began to turn around in 2017, with continued growth expected over the next few years,” Lovelock says.
“However, uncertainty looms as organisations consider the potential impacts of Brexit, currency fluctuations, and a possible global recession. Despite this uncertainty, businesses will continue to invest in IT as they anticipate revenue growth, but their spending patterns will shift.”
Gartner predicts that enterprise software spend will experience a shift, as budgets are focused more towards software-as-a-service (SaaS).
It says the growing availability of SaaS-based solutions is encouraging new adoption and spending across many subcategories, such as financial management systems (FMS), human capital management (HCM) and analytic applications.
However, Lovelock says the growth opportunity for AI will be particularly significant, as it presents a range of innovative use cases.
"Looking at some of the key areas driving spending over the next few years, Gartner forecasts $2.9 trillion in new business value opportunities attributable to AI by 2021, as well as the ability to recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity," he says.
"That business value is attributable to using AI to, for example, drive efficiency gains, create insights that personalise the customer experience, entice engagement and commerce, and aid in expanding revenue-generating opportunities as part of new business models driven by the insights from data."
In 2017, the device segment experienced growth for the first time in two years with an increase of 5.7%, and in 2018, Gartner expects the segment to grow a further 5.6%.
End-user spending on mobile phones is expected to increase marginally as average selling prices continue to creep upward even as unit sales are forecast to be lower.
PC growth is expected to be flat in 2018 even as continued Windows 10 migration is expected to drive positive growth in the business market in China, Latin America and Eastern Europe.
iOS shipments are expected to grow 9.1% in 2018, which is despite the minimal impact of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X last year.