Global IT spending will rise by more than three per cent to $2.5tn (£1.58tn) in 2011, according to new figures from Gartner.
Spending is still low in Europe and North America, the analyst firm said, and will not reach the high points seen in 2008 in some vertical markets like manufacturing and financial services until at least 2014.
By contrast, emerging markets like China and South America will drive corporate IT spending as companies in the regions gear up for new knowledge economy jobs.
"At the heart of the change over the next 20 years will be intelligence drawn from information," said Peter Sondergaard, a senior vice president and global head of research at Gartner.
"Information will be the 'oil of the 21st century'. It will be the resource running our economy in ways not possible in the past."
Sondergaard said that companies should focus on four key areas: cloud computing, the business impact of social computing, context-aware computing and pattern-based strategy.
Cloud computing is having the most impact, according to Sondergaard, and will bring disruptive changes over the next few years.
"Cloud computing will transform the IT industry, as it will alter the financial model on which investors look at technology providers. And it will change vertical industries, making the impact of the internet on the music industry look like a minor blip," he said.
Looking ahead, social computing will increasingly be used to enable new workflow patterns of collaborative working. These will not use existing social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, but new and more business focused software.
Context-aware computing, particularly when combined with wireless internet access, will have an increasingly important effect, as software gets better at predicting the desires of the user based on factors like past behaviour and location.
Finally, companies will have to become more aware of patterns of information within the business and among customers, so that business practices can become more efficient and responsive to consumer needs.
"The combination of these four trends creates an unimaginable force impacting not just IT and the IT industry, but the capability of business and government, " said Sondergaard.
"Each of these four trends is about driving IT business value. Whether IT acts now or not, the combination of these trends will drive dramatic change in your enterprise's business model and strategy."
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