Mobility and security will top the IT agenda for European businesses in 2005 as increasing confidence helps IT infrastructure spending to continue its upward trend, newly published research has found.
A recent IDC end-user survey indicated that, after an "undeniably positive" 2004, a further uplift will be fuelled by corporate renewals and burgeoning small and medium-sized business (SMB) demand for IT.
The research found that the key trends centre on the "clear acceleration" of mobility as remote working technology becomes increasingly integrated into existing business infrastructures.
It also noted that data security, especially pertaining to the implementation of wireless networks, remains a top priority.
"With 2004 being driven by a major uptake of notebook penetration, and in particular strong desktop replacement trends in the SMB market, European businesses are clearly displaying a far greater commitment to the integration of mobile solutions into their IT strategy," said Ian Gibbs, senior research analyst at IDC's European Personal Computing team.
"The share of notebooks continues to grow within business organisations - from SMB to corporate - as an improved perception of the benefits in terms of productivity and flexibility are placing mobile platforms, along with an uptake of wireless networks, at the heart of business IT solutions."
The IDC research revealed that overall business confidence appears to be on the rise, with buying intentions for PCs looking very positive.
Over half of this year's survey respondents expect to spend more on IT infrastructure in 2005 than they did in 2004, while PC purchases are expected to rise.
The analyst firm also predicted that demand for notebooks as the key mobile solution platform will continue to grow.
After a major uptake in the SMB market in 2003-2004, portable PCs are expected increasingly to find their way into the heart of tailored corporate mobile infrastructures.
While physical aspects such as notebook size and weight will remain key, it is system performance that is of over-riding concern.
The analyst firm noted that improving data security remains the most important investment priority in 2005, followed by the replacement of aging systems and upgrades to Windows XP.
However, cost constraints and a lack of understanding of newly developed technologies remain the biggest inhibitors to new investment proposals.
IDC found that wireless network installations increased in 2004, with a further rise expected in 2005 as issues surrounding wireless standards and network security are steadily overcome.
The study also found that Linux is receiving increasing interest from businesses. Although penetration is still at a low level, it is gradually being seen as a more credible alternative.
Of those businesses currently using Linux, some feel it is technically more suited to their IT environments, while the majority feel that a Linux and Windows mix provides them with greater stability.
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