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IT spending in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey is expected to surpass US$65 billion in 2012, growing at nearly 12% year on year, according to market analyst IDC.

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However, if the political and economic situation worsens, spending could be lower and growth could drop to less than 10%.

In 2012, the Middle East, Africa and Turkey IT markets will be characterised by the leveraging of disruptive technologies and operating models such as cloud, virtualisation, mobility and analytics.

The focus of the region’s organisations will be on optimising their IT investments and supporting business growth in what will continue to be a volatile political and economic environment.

As the year of the Arab Spring, 2011 saw much political turbulence in several countries across the Middle East and Africa, which led to lower-than-expected IT market growth.

The stability of the post-Arab Spring political environment and the global economic uncertainty stemming from the eurozone crisis will shape IT spending in 2012.

Of the region’s big country markets, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and South Africa will all experience year-on-year IT spending growth of between 7% and 12% in 2012.

Qatar, which has a promising market outlook for the next several years, will see an increase of approximately 14%. Egypt, which has been the country in the eye of the storm, faces uncertain times.

In terms of technology focus, IDC expects virtualisation to attain must-have status in the region during 2012.

"Adoption is still slow in the Gulf countries, where system and application availability is a big concern and often overrides the cost benefits offered by virtualisation," says Jyoti Lalchandani, vice president and managing director of IDC Middle East, Africa and Turkey.

"Greenfield IT projects now invariably have virtualisation as a cornerstone and foundation for future expansion and possible cloud deployment; we expect KSA and the UAE to be at the forefront of adoption," he says.

South Africa and Turkey are seeing a rapid increase in virtualisation adoption.

Several medium-sized and large organisations, having proof tested virtualisation in 2011 during data center consolidation efforts, will move to more extensive adoption with greater confidence in 2012.

Desktop, storage and application virtualisation initiatives will gain momentum, particularly within large organisations.

Kenya and Nigeria will also see higher levels of adoption in 2012 as awareness spreads and users begin to realise the benefits.

The concept of cloud computing will also receive serious attention throughout the year.

However, the shortage of requisite technical skills may mean that complicated and often expensive private cloud projects are likely to face significant delays in 2012.

It could also potentially be dropped altogether as the economics of building these out become difficult to justify in the current volatile economic climate.

Despite this, a slew of new cloud providers and cloud services will enter the region’s markets.

IDC also expects traditional ISVs to offer cloud-ready versions of their established software packages in 2012.

Furthermore, telcos across the region are expected to roll out cloud portfolios aggressively as extensions of their existing hosting services.

In addition, there will be a transformation in employee productivity in 2012 as media tablets are embraced across the region.

Entities in the education and to a lesser extent, health care sectors, particularly in the Gulf States, are now considering provisioning media tablets to users, with those in other sectors expected to follow suit.

However, the customisation required for compatibility with existing IT environments will ensure the pace of such roll outs remains slow.

IDC also expects to see the region’s more progressive organisations begin to deploy less sophisticated and more easily managed applications on mobile platforms.

Field force automation, service management, time and attendance management, and business intelligence applications are all examples of applications that could see early demand in 2012.

----IDC

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