The UK IT market is dull and uninspiring, with a certain air of resignation, according to the 2002 Holway Report on the UK IT services and software market due to be published next week.
The IT analyst house, now part of Ovum Holway, suggested that this year's big question from the boardroom is 'How can we make do with what we've got?' rather than 'Where do we go from here?'.
"We think the prevailing sentiment towards IT in UK business is to make the best job of it with whatever you have to hand, with as little additional investment as is feasible," the report said.
This is good news for companies involved in outsourcing, middleware or applications integration, but leaves slim pickings for the rest of the supplier community.
Labelling 2002 as "the year of making do", the report predicted that application integration will be the main focus of project work this year.
"The effect of customers making do will steer private sector project services work towards integrating existing applications and databases and interfacing them with the relatively small amount of new, internet-oriented front-end applications that will continue to be developed," said the report.
"This is not the time for the implementation of brand new, end-to-end, enterprise-wide systems [irrespective of Oracle boss Larry Ellison's exhortations]."
Holway argued that, as a result, activity in the software market will "revolve around middleware", but the analyst warned that web services are not going to set the world alight just yet.
"The Holy Grail of standardised applications and interfaces, such as those promoted by web services, will remain a distant promise," according to the report.
The boardroom call to make the best of what it has may be good news for outsourcers, however.
The report stated: "Outsourcing will increasingly become the preferred way of 'making do', i.e. by 'making others do' at lower cost.
"Outsourcing, particularly as part of a total 'design, build and manage/operate' contract, will be virtually the only way that customers will be able to afford to look beyond their noses while 'making do' within current budgets.
"This will apply to business process outsourcing as much, if not more, as it will to IT outsourcing."
Holway's report predicted 15 per cent growth in the outsourcing market, and just over one per cent for the rest of the software and IT services market.
Additionally, support services players will be kept busy, but at borderline margins thanks to the "demands of the 24 x 7 operation, and the proliferation of new end-user devices".
The sentiments were echoed by analyst Gartner, which suggested that the end of 2001 and 2002 would be a quiet time.
Gartner warned last month that companies will continue to concentrate on achieving returns from existing technology this year, rather than investing in innovation.
"Don't believe that there is substantial growth in the economy," said Peter Sondergaard, Gartner's European head of research. "The 'gap year' is going to be a gap 18 months."
Finding refutes many earlier studies that suggest that galaxies don't have much dark matter at the time of their birth
Boris the robot outed as man in rented robot suit
Mission will provide vital data about the performance of rocket, spacecraft, autonomous docking system and the landing system
The flight will take off from California's Mojave Air and Space Port and could happen as soon as 13th December