IBM's Q1 2010 Results In Align With Our Expectations -- A Bellwether for Other Vendor Results To Come

TECH DEVELOPMENTS: Like half a dozen Forrester colleagues, I have been stuck in London since last week due to the Icelandic volcano's disruption of air travel.  So, this allows me a UK perspective on IBM's results for Q1 2010.   These turned out to be very much what I expected (see "US And Global IT Market Outlook: Q1 2010 -- The Tech Market Recovery Has Begun").  I thought IBM's revenues would grow by mid-single digits; in fact, they grew by 5%.  I expected its software revenue growth to be in low double-digits; its hardware revenues to be around 3%-5%; its outsourcing revenues up about the same; and its consulting and SI revenues down by 5% to 10%.  Again, actual results came in pretty close: software revenues were up 10.6%; systems and technology revenues up 4.9%; outsourcing (GTS outsourcing) up 6%; and IT consulting and systems integration services (Integrated Technology Services and Global Businesses Services) flat with the year before. 

Based on the results we have seen so far from IBM, Oracle (quarter ending February 28), Accenture (quarter ending February 28), and Atos Origin, here's what I think we will see for vendors for the rest of the quarter:

  • Software will be strong, up 10% or more growth in US dollar revenues for most vendors.  Microsoft will do better than this, thanks to strong sales from Windows 7.
  • Hardware will also be strong, with PC vendors posting 15% growth and server/storage vendors coming in around 5% to 8%. 
  • IT consulting and systems integrations servies will still be down, lagging the upturn in software investment.
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The Tech Recovery of 2010 Is Underway

As I predicted in January 2010 (see January 11, 2010, "US and Global IT Market Outlook: Q4 2009"), a tech recovery has started in the US and around the world.  In my updated IT market forecast (see April 8, 2010, "US and Global IT Market Outlook: Q1 2010"), I point out that IT market indicators from Q4 2009 showed an end to declines, setting the stage for stronger growth in 2010.  Since IT market trends are playing out as I expected, I have made only modest changes to my 2010 IT market forecasts.  I now expect the US IT market to grow by 8.4%, a bit higher than my earlier forecast, because of better-than-expected performance in communications equipment.  My forecast for the global IT market in US dollars is a bit lower at 7.7%, with the unexpected strength in the US dollar (due to the weaker Euro after the Greek debt crisis) dampening dollar-denominated growth.  I continue to see computer equipment and software as the strongest product categories in 2010, with PCs, peripherals, and storage equipment leading the computer category and operating system software and applications setting the pace for software. Communications equipment purchases are looking up, especially for enterprise and SMB buying.  IT services will lag a bit, with systems integration project work waiting for licensed software purchases to rise. 

In this report, I provide our first look at 2010 IT purchases on an industry basis in the US.  Confirming past research, the largest US industry market for tech products and services is the professional services industry ($103 billion), followed by financial services ($81 billion), and government ($71 billion).  In terms of 2010 growth prospects, US manufacturers, financial services firms, utilities, and health care will see the strongest growth in 2010. 

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