Worldwide ICT Spending to Exceed $5.6 Trillion in 2021

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Worldwide ICT spending, including new technologies, is expected to exceed US$5.6 trillion in 2021 with growth accelerating through the end of the forecast period as new categories account for a growing proportion of overall investments, according to IDC.

The IDC report, entitled ‘Worldwide Black Book: 3rd Platform Edition’, stated that by 2021, new 3rd Platform technologies, including IoT solutions, robots and drones, augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) headsets, and 3D printers, will account for 23% of total ICT spending. Overall, 3rd Platform investments, including the Four Pillars of cloud, mobile, big data & analytics, and social, will make up more than 70% of worldwide ICT spending.


The fastest-growing technology markets last year were AR/VR, cognitive and artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing, and robotics. Meanwhile, IoT has already grown to account for 15% of ICT spending, including new operational technology (OT) software and services, which represent expanding opportunity and potential disruption for traditional software and services vendors. But while the adoption of 3rd Platform technologies is broadly positive across all countries, there are key geographic differences in terms of early adoption and short-term opportunities.


“Mature economies are leading the way in some 3rd Platform markets, thanks to more advanced cloud infrastructure and software innovation driving rapid adoption of solutions around big data and analytics, cognitive AI and cloud-based software,” said Stephen Minton, vice president, Customer Insights & Analysis at IDC. “It’s a different story with technologies that are focused on industrial-use cases in manufacturing, such as IoT and robotics. Emerging leaders like China are driving much of the innovation in real-world deployments around these industry-focused technologies.”


China accounted for 28% of worldwide IoT spending in 2017, and 29% of total robotics investments, compared to just 12% of traditional ICT spending categories (hardware, software, services and telecom). Some Asia/Pacific countries are also early adopters of robotics and IoT. Cognitive AI investments are dominated by US businesses, who are also leading the way in AR/VR prototypes.


“While the traditional ICT market has become more homogenous in the last few years, as emerging markets caught up to mature economies and often leapfrogged legacy technologies in their adoption of mobile solutions, the 3rd Platform brings with it a new period of fragmentation,” added Minton. “The US is once again at the forefront of much new software innovation, while countries like China and Germany are driving industry-focused categories. Understanding these regional and country-level differences, including the drivers and inhibitors behind likely adoption curves for new technologies, will be key to ICT vendor strategy in the next 5-10 years.”