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Technology Purchases from Line of Business Budgets Forecast to Grow Faster Than Purchases Funded by the IT Organization

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A new update to the Worldwide Semiannual IT Spending Guide: Line of Business from the International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts worldwide corporate IT spending funded by non-IT business units will reach $609 billion in 2017, an increase of 5.9% over 2016. The Spending Guide, which quantifies the purchasing power of line of business (LoB) technology buyers by providing a detailed examination of where the funding for a variety of IT purchases originates, also forecasts LoB spending to achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.9% over the 2015-2020 forecast period. In comparison, technology spending by IT buyers is forecast to have a five-year CAGR of 2.3%. By 2020, IDC expects LoB technology purchases to be nearly equal to that of the IT organization.

“Companies’ adaptation of Innovation Accelerators, such as Internet of Things, Cognitive/AI systems, and 3D Printing, together with the four Pillar technologies of the 3rd Platform, to both new product and service developments and day-to-day business operations has fundamentally increased Line of Business spending on IT,” said Naoko Iwamoto, senior market analyst with the IDC Japan IT Spending Group. “The Innovation Accelerators have put the line of business units in the frontline of the digital transformation and have forced them to work either alone with the ecosystem outside of the IT organization as ‘shadow IT’ or in closer collaboration with the IT department than ever before.”

IDC’s Line of Business taxonomy identifies two major types of technology purchases funded by the IT organization and purchases funded by technology buyers outside of IT. Joint purchases can be funded by either IT or the functional business unit while “shadow IT” projects are funded from the functional area budget without the knowledge, involvement, or support of the IT department. Although some technology categories are dominated by IT spending, most involve outlays from both IT and the business units. For example, worldwide IT spending on servers, storage, and network equipment is forecast to total $114.1 billion this year, while LoB spending on these items will total $52.9 billion. However, IT is not the primary source of funding for all hardware purchases. Business unit spending on PCs, monitors, mobile phones, printers, and tablets will total $83.8 billion worldwide this year compared to $76.2 billion spent by the IT department. And line of business buyers will spend more on software applications in 2017 ($150.7 billion) than IT buyers ($64.7 billion).

The technology categories that will see the most spending from LoB buyers in 2017 will be applications ($150.7 billion), project-oriented services ($120.3 billion), and outsourcing ($70.3 billion). The categories that will receive the most spending from IT buyers this year will be outsourcing ($149.2 billion), project-oriented services ($82.2 billion), and support and training ($79.8 billion). Combined IT-LoB purchases of outsourcing and project-oriented services ($422 billion) will represent nearly one third of all technology purchases worldwide in 2017. The technology categories that will see the fastest growth in spending over the 2015-2020 forecast period are tablets (16.2% CAGR for IT and LoB purchases combined) and midrange enterprise servers (14.7% combined CAGR). LoB buyers will also continue to invest aggressively in applications and application development and deployment (8.5% and 9.3% CAGRs, respectively)