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Research roundup: predicting the coronavirus’ impact on IT

Peter Krass's picture

by Peter Krass on 04/03/2020
Blog Category: advanced-technologies

The worldwide coronavirus pandemic will cause IT spending to drop this year, voice-controlled smart-home devices to get more popular, small businesses to struggle, and many companies to consider letting remote workers stay remote.

That’s the latest from top IT market watchers. Here’s your tech provider’s roundup.

IT spending will dip

Let’s start with the big-picture, macro-market forecast. Market watcher IDC now predicts that the coronavirus pandemic will cause IT spending worldwide to dip by nearly 3% this year.

Spending on IT hardware, software and services will decline at a faster pace than the gross domestic product (GDP) rate overall, IDC adds. That’s because IT buyers are reacting to the market downturn by quickly cutting their spending.

For example, looking at just March 2020, IDC expects real GDP worldwide dropped by 1.7%, while IT spending worldwide fell by an even greater 2.7%. (The month's final numbers weren't in yet.)

Spending on devices will be hit especially hard, IDC predicts, dropping nearly 9% in constant currency terms. Smartphones look especially vulnerable, despite the advent of 5G devices.

Yet demand and usage for some IT technologies and services should actually increase this year, IDC adds. (Hello, Zoom!)

“There will be pockets of opportunity for software and related services during the next six months,” says Stephen Minton, an IDC VP, “as organizations create response measures focused around increased remote work and collaboration.” 

Voice systems answer the call

From the macro to the micro, ABI Research now predicts that our concerns over virus-infected surfaces will help boost sales of smart-home voice-control systems this year by 30% year-over-year.

Last year, the market watcher estimates, a total of 141 million voice-control home devices shipped worldwide. A 30% jump on that would bring this year’s total to roughly 183 million devices.

“A smarter home,” says ABI research director Jonathan Collins, “can be a safer home.”

Small-biz: feeling pain

Small businesses are especially vulnerable to an economic downturn. Unlike big corporations that have literally billions of dollars of cash on hand, most small businesses have only enough cash to get them through a few months.

No surprise, then, that nearly 9 in 10 U.S. small businesses (87%) say their businesses are hurting from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey conducted by WalletHub.

How much cash do these small businesses actually have on hand? Nearly 1 in 3 say only enough to get them through the next 3 months, WalletHub’s survey finds.

Roughly 7 in 10 small businesses also say the U.S. federal government isn’t doing enough to help small businesses. And nearly two-thirds plan to seek funds from the fed’s coronavirus-relief package.

Layoffs are an especially tough aspect of the pandemic. In the WalletHub survey, 1 in 3 small businesses say they’ve already laid off employees. A slightly higher percentage (36%) plan layoffs soon.

Remote work forever!

Many, many people are now working from home. But what happens when we go back to “normal”? Turns out, some people will continue working from home.

Nearly 3 in 4 organizations (74%) plan to shift at least 5% of previously on-site employees to permanently remote positions after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, finds a new survey of more than 315 CFOs and other finance execs conducted by Gartner.

About a quarter of the CFOs are even more ambitious. They plan to move at least 1 in 5 workers who were previously on-site to remote positions on a permanent basis, Gartner’s survey finds.

Meanwhile, CFOs are finding that, even while working from home, most of their work is getting done on time. Fully 90% of the CFOs surveyed told Gartner that they expect only minimal disruptions to their accounting-close process. They also find that nearly all their activities can be executed off-site.


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