Last week, Forrester released results from our “Global IT Budgets, Priorities, And Emerging Technology Tracking Survey.” Highlights of the survey are reported in Chris Mines’ recent blog, the title of which gives you the gist of our findings: The Overall IT Budget Environment Has Turned Positive.
However, there were some very interesting differences across some of the geographies we surveyed. Respondents in emerging markets tend to be more optimistic than their counterparts in more mature markets. When asked about the outlook for their industry, 51% of respondents in Latin America thought that 2010 would be a very good or somewhat good year, followed by 36% in Emerging Asia (China and India) and Russia, with North America and Western Europe lagging behind with only 31% and 25%, respectively. Big difference in outlook between Western Europe and Latin America! On a more positive note all around, these numbers were much more positive than the outlook of respondents in last year’s survey. In 2009, only 8% of respondents in NA and WE expected a good year – really not very optimistic about their industry outlooks. Emerging Asia (without Russia) was 15%, and Latin America was 21%.
According to IBM’s CEO Sam Palmisano, “vision without execution is delusion.” That saying stuck in the minds of attendees at IBM’s SmarterCities event in Shanghai last week making it the de facto theme of the event. According to Palmisano, it’s time to move beyond ideas and put those ideas into practice.
I would argue, however, that when it comes to making “cities” smarter it’s not a question of “vision without execution.” IBM and others are executing, particularly in China and other emerging markets. IBM’s growth markets revenue was up 19% in 2009, up from 18% growth in 2008. China alone grew 14.7 % in 2010. In many markets, stimulus funding has spurred spending on “smart” initiatives.
Rather, it is still more a question of vision. The mantra of smarter cities resonates with many — it’s like motherhood and apple pie, or the equivalents across the globe (rice pudding? crème brûlée?). You can’t argue against it. But, can you show me a smarter city? “Smarter cities” is a catch-all phrase for any initiative undertaken by a government or even nongovernmental entity — the transport ministry or tax agency, the postal service, a hospital or university, or even an association of exporters. Don’t get me wrong; I love the idea. I’ve just been wrestling with a definition for some time now. Everything can be a “city” and within IBM’s sights.