IT spend by the UK's largest companies is set to remain "fairly level" at £35bn for 2003, with users focusing on systems management and security projects, according to research by IDC.
The analyst's 2003 European Business User Spending Intentions survey interviewed 1,000 IT managers and directors across six countries in western Europe, including the UK.
Although IT managers predicted growth in IT spending of up to 5.5 per cent, IDC maintained that this figure is more likely to be around one per cent compared with last year's figure of £34.5bn.
The analyst put this down to under spending on budgets, increased caution and budget adjustments.
"I expect [spending] to be fairly level," said Chris Ingle, group consultant for IDC's systems group.
Services is predicted to be the main growth area, rising from £16.25bn to £16.69bn, closely followed by packaged software applications. But hardware spend will continue to decline, with an expected fall from £10.9bn to £10.7bn.
Management concerns over the value of IT investments was cited as the biggest barrier by 30 per cent of respondents, followed by difficulties in understanding technology.
With stagnant budgets and pressure from the board, IT departments are scaling back new projects and instead concentrating on getting the most out of existing systems, according to the research.
"There is much more focus on the plumbing-type things and the basics such as systems and data management, security and server consolidation," said Ingle.
Although corporate awareness of Linux has increased over the past year, with a third of respondents indicating that it is a genuine alternative to Microsoft on the desktop, actual deployments remain limited.
"Deployments are up but we are talking very small numbers," explained Ingle. "It is something people are considering as part of their desktop strategy, along with things like thin clients."
Interest in wireless technologies has also declined due to cost and security concerns, according to the survey.
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