Worldwide government IT spending to remain flat in 2013, says Gartner

Government organisations worldwide will spend 0.1% less on IT this year, but cloud computing, mobile technologies and IT modernisation remain top IT priorities

Government organisations worldwide will spend a total of $449.5bn (£288bn) on IT projects in 2013, a decrease of 0.1% from last year, analyst firm Gartner has estimated. 

Cloud computing, mobile technologies and IT modernisation remain the top three IT priorities for governments globally, despite the decrease in spending, it added.

“Cloud computing, in particular, continues to increase compared with prior years, driven by economic conditions and a shift from capital expenditure to operational expenditure, as well as potentially more important factors such as faster deployment and reduced risk,” said Christine Arcaris, research director at Gartner.

Gartner’s Enterprise IT spending for 2013 research surveyed IT professionals in 13 countries, including the UK.

Cloud adoption

Respondents reported that they are adopting public and private cloud-based services at an increasing rate, with 30-50% of organisations planning for, or having an active IT services contract within the next 12 months.

While the focus initially was on software as a service (SaaS) implementation, future roll-outs will include infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS), the study revealed.

Public sector organisations also showed strong interest in areas such as professional services and big data, the research found.

But datacentre investment ranked lower in the IT priority list for public sector CIOs worldwide.

“Areas such as datacentre consolidation, are lower on the list than in previous years, perhaps demonstrating that they may have met resistance in a more strategic roll-out,” said Arcaris.

IT suppliers must reposition their offerings according to these changing market dynamics, she said.

Mobility and BYOD

Among top IT priorities, mobile technology was increasing in importance among government agencies with more decentralised staff and those that have a large field workforce or specialised needs – such as border patrol agents, inspectors and social workers – to benefit from mobile investments.

This next wave of technology adoption will develop over time, as agencies replace existing hardware with new mobile infrastructure and devices, Gartner predicted.

The study also showed that momentum is building for bring your own device (BYOD) programmes. Over half of the respondents (52%) said employees are allowed to bring their own smartphones to work, about 50% said staff can use their own laptop, while 38% said tablet PCs can be used in the workplace. 

But challenges around security and governance could limit the pace and adoption of BYOD strategies, according to Gartner.

Big data

The survey also indicated that while big data is not yet a high priority among survey respondents, it is gaining momentum.

“Government organisations have increased big data spending for improper payment systems, indicating the desire to tackle fraud, waste and abuse within agencies, as well as target upfront errors in revenue collection,” said Arcaris.

“While agencies are assessing how to manage, leverage and store big data, not many have addressed the challenges associated with the use of content and the issues associated with merging large amounts of data onto a single platform,” she warned.

A recent Vanson Bourne study showed that lack of appropriate datacentre infrastructure and existing silos in work practices are preventing UK enterprises from benefiting from big data analytics projects.

The 0.1% decrease in IT spend from governments globally is lower than Gartner’s previous forecast, which suggested a 0.2% growth in spending for 2013. The flat budget demonstrates that government agencies continue to struggle against weak economic development, the report said.

Read more on Datacentre capacity planning