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IT budgets are stagnant. Cloud and hosted services are hot. Laptop spending will approach that of desktops. And artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), 3-D printing and the Internet of Things (IoT) are getting real.

These are among the findings of the 2016 survey on IT budgets and technology trends recently released by Spiceworks, an Austin, Texas-based professional network for IT professionals. The report is based on Spiceworks’ survey of nearly 900 IT pros, as well as social data from conversations on its own network.

For solution providers, the survey findings can help you focus your sales and marketing efforts on the areas that IT pros — your clients — believe are of highest importance and priority.

Here are the survey’s high points:

> IT budgets will barely budge in 2017. The average budget among respondents was $293,093 this year, and for next year, $294,081, a difference of less than $1K. In the U.K., budgets are actually trending downward, with respondents there expecting to see 2017 budgets down by 5 percent. This chart, courtesy of Spiceworks, shows the expected breakdown of overall spending by IT category:

IT budget allocation by sector chart; Importance of IT solutions and services chart.

 

> IT staffing is mostly flat, too. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents said they expect no change in the size of the IT staff in 2017. Another 30 percent expect the IT staff next year to increase, and just 4 percent expect their IT staff to decrease.

> In the hardware spend, laptops will get nearly as much budget next year as desktops. Respondents say desktop spending will fall from 21 percent of the total hardware budget this year to 18 percent in 2017. That will bring it just 2 points higher than laptop spending, which is expected at 16 percent of the hardware budget next year.

> Software spending will be flat next year. And the highest priority projects will include virtualization (accounting for 15% of the software budget), productivity (13%), operating systems (13%) and CRM/ERP (10%).                                                                                                  

> Cloud spending in 2017 will go mainly to email hosting (19% of the hosted/cloud budget), online backup/recovery (14%), web hosting (11%) and productivity solutions (9%).

> What spurs buyers to buy new products? Mainly, equipment at the end of its useful life, cited by 70 percent of respondents. Other drivers include business growth (cited by 63%), upgrades/refresh cycles (59%) and project need (58%). (Multiple replies were permitted.)

> The most important IT initiatives for 2017 are security, networking and storage, as shown by the following chart, courtesy of Spiceworks:

IT budget allocation by sector chart; Importance of IT solutions and services chart.

> AI, VR, 3-D printers and IoT were increasingly hot topics of conversation among IT pros. Spiceworks tracked the number of mentions in its social network between January and August of this year, and all four were trending sharply upward.

Actual adoption of these advanced technologies, while not quite as robust, is nonetheless real, Spiceworks finds. IoT adoption was cited by 13 percent of respondents, with another 10 percent planning to use IoT in the future. 3-D printing is used by 7 percent, and planned by 5 percent. VR is used by 4 percent and planned by 3 percent. And AI is used by just 2 percent and planned by 3 percent.

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