Cloud services, mobile computing, and social networking technologies are going to mature in 2011 and beyond, according to IDC.

The research firm predicts these technologies will coalesce into a new mainstream platform for both the IT industry and the industries it serves.

Critical transition

According to IDC, the platform transition will be fuelled by another solid year of recovery in IT spending. The research firm forecasts that next year, global IT spending will be US$1.6 trillion representing an increase of 5.7 per cent over 2010.

Frank Gens, senior vice president and chief analyst at IDC notes that next year will see the critical transition of the transformative technologies from early adopter status to early mainstream adoption.

The IT industry will thus revolve more around the build-out and adoption of this next dominant platform, characterised by mobility, cloud-based application and service delivery, and value-generating overlays of social business and pervasive analytics.

Gens added that this restructuring will not only create new markets and opportunities but will also change nearly every assumption about who the industry's leaders will be and how they establish and maintain leadership.

Recovery in emerging markets

Hardware spending will remain strong in 2011 but IDC says the industry will depend to a larger extent on improvements in software spending and related project-based services spending.

The global IT spending will also benefit from the accelerated recovery in emerging markets. IDC predicts that this market will generate more than half of all net new IT spending worldwide next year.

In 2011, spending on public IT cloud services will grow at more than five times the rate of the IT industry representing an increase of 30 per cent from 2010. Small and medium-sized business cloud use will also increase next year and a more nascent private cloud model will continue to evolve as infrastructure, software, and service providers collaborate on a range of new offerings and solutions.

Year of consolidation

The shipments of app-capable, non-PC mobile devices are expected to outnumber PC shipments within the next 18 months. IDC expects about 25 billion mobile apps to be downloaded in 2011 and says over time, the still-emerging apps ecosystems may fundamentally restructure the channels for all digital content and services to consumers.

IDC marks 2011 as a year of consolidation as the major software vendors acquire social software providers to increase their social business footprint. The use of social platforms by small and medium-sized businesses is also set to accelerate, and more than 40 per cent of SMBs are expected to use social networks for promotional purposes by the year's end.

"What really distinguishes the year ahead is that these disruptive technologies are finally being integrated with each other, cloud with mobile, mobile with social networking, social networking with 'big data' and real-time analytics," said Gens. "As a result, these once-emerging technologies can no longer be invested in, or managed, as sandbox efforts around the edges of the market. Instead, they are rapidly becoming the market itself and must be addressed accordingly."