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IT industry pushes forward despite uncertainty

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The rapid development of IT services and solutions has given the private sector the unique ability to drive innovation in the enterprise. By replacing old phone systems with IP or cloud-based offerings or implementing advanced storage solutions to manage the big data phenomenon, organizations can support long-term growth adoption strategies that provide them with a competitive advantages over rival firms neglecting the use of technology.

Unfortunately, the macroeconomic crisis continues to put pressure on decision-makers to only invest in tools that will provide financial or performance improvements. A recent study by CompTIA highlighted this dynamic, revealing how the IT landscape is gaining momentum, but not without challenges.

"The fiscal cliff turmoil certainly clouded the 2013 outlook," said Tim Herbert, vice president of research at CompTIA. "Technology has never been more important, but persistent economic headwinds force many customer segments to remain conservative with their investments."

Fortunately, there is still hope, as CompTIA analysts predict the global IT industry to grow 3 percent in 2013, with the potential to expand 5.2 percent if decision-makers are confident in the tools and invest with more conviction. IT services in particular will see an increase, as CompTIA forecasts the market to stretch between 3.4 percent and 5.6 percent in the coming year.

"Reaching the upside of the forecast range will require macroeconomic stability, steady business confidence and healthy customers," Herbert said. "There is good reason to believe the IT industry will hit the upside of growth projections, but there is still enough uncertainty to warrant caution."

Will communications feel a shift?

CompTIA noted several specific trends that will likely develop in 2013 to drive the overall IT industry forward. One of these occurrences will take place when business phone systems and other collaborative platforms are augmented by the cloud.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in particular are looking to implement cloud PBX systems because of the technology's scalability and high availability. A separate study by Webtorials found that the number of SMBs interested in cloud services grew by 14 percent in 2012 compared to 2011. These investments were largely driven by the opportunity to gain a competitive advantage and improve flexibility by supporting the growing remote workforce.

"While controlling costs by investing in new technology seems contradictory, cloud-based communications tools in particular can be leveraged to drive competitive differentiation and maximize operational expenses," telecom expert David Scult said. "As a result, this technology can help spur growth through enhanced productivity and efficiency."

As the cloud continues to evolve and mature, more companies will gain confidence in using hosted PBX solutions to improve operations and enhance flexibility. Forward-thinking decision-makers will recognize the potential benefits of using the cloud, including those beyond the financial realm, as the technology will likely invade the private sector on a number of levels. By implementing the tools before competitors, organizations will remain one step ahead of the curve.