Cloud, Social and Mobile Drive Digital Economy

By Bob Violino

Worldwide spending on information technology is expected to reach $3.8 trillion in 2014, a 4 percent increase from spending in 2013, according to a new report from research firm Gartner. The company says spending will be driven by the emergence of a digital industrial economy.

This digital economy will be built on the foundation of a “nexus of forces” that includes a confluence and integration of cloud services, social media collaboration, mobile devices and applications and the Internet of everything, according to Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president and global head of research at Gartner.

“Digitalization exposes every part of your business and its operations to these forces,” Sondergaard said at the recent Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, Fla. “It is how you reach customers and constituents; how you run your physical plant; and how you generate revenue or deliver services. Enterprises doing this today are setting themselves apart and will collectively lead the new digital industrial economy.”

The digitalization trend creates an accelerated technology-driven start-up environment across the globe, Sondergaard said. He noted that many of the vendors that are leaders of the market today might not be leaders in the digital industrial economy.

One major trend of the new era will be the development of the Internet of Things, the firm says. In 2009, there were 2.5 billion connected devices with unique IP addresses to the Internet, and most of them were devices such as cell phones and PCs.

In 2020, there will be up to 30 billion devices connected with unique IP addresses, most of which will be products, Gartner says. The firm predicts that the total economic value-add for the Internet of things will be $1.9 trillion in 2020, and will benefit a range of industries.

All these things connected to the Internet will generate data, Sondergaard said, and effective digital enterprises will harness that data to change their business. Of course, with all this valuable data housed in the IT organization, cyber-security will be an ongoing concern—both inside and outside the enterprise.

“The security of embedded technologies that your organization has right now may be the most important operational responsibility you will have in 2020,” Sondergaard said. “Digitalization will create new infrastructures and new vulnerabilities in our infrastructures.