Another Year, Another Decade: IT Industry Outlook 2020 Research Eyes ‘Next Steps’

The IT Industry Outlook 2020 research report is here and as usual, much has changed and will continue to do so. Biggest change? Clout. The techies have it.

CompTIA IT Industry Outlook 2020 Blog Graphic 3_515x325px (1)So, folks, get ready. 2020 is on its way. In mere weeks, we close the books on another decade and start one anew amidst champagne toasts, Auld Lang Syne, and the ball drop in Times Square.

And as usual in the tech industry, much has changed and will continue to do so. Biggest change? Clout. The techies have it. Ten years ago, for example, the most valuable companies in the world were Exxon Mobil, Petro China, Apple, Microsoft, and Petrobras. Today? That list still features Apple and Microsoft, but no longer the juggernaut of energy companies. Instead, add three tech giants to the pantheon: Amazon, Google, and Facebook. Now, with clout and power comes responsibility. And how that plays out will be something to watch closely in the year ahead.

If you think about it, the industry is in the midst of a dichotomy of sorts. It is both maturing like any other industry has done historically, but at the same time remains the unmatched source of innovation and wealth in the global economy. This holds true for the giants of the industry, but also the people who work in technology professions or run those multitudes of tech businesses that operate at a grain-of-sand fraction of the size of a Google.

For those who work in technology, the turn of the calendar prompts some thought-noodling, particularly how best to adapt to a quickly changing, complex environment. At CompTIA, we try to do the same. Each year we publish our IT Industry Outlook research that projects out about the year ahead. This year’s theme is “Taking the Next Step.” That next step could be advancing your career along a new technology path. Or it could be changing your business model if you are a tech firm owner. Or, you could decide to take the plunge into an emerging tech discipline, say drones or artificial intelligence.

10 Trends to Watch


The research we have done is three-fold in nature. First, we provide some macro-level prognosticating on the direction the industry is headed in terms of growth. As part of that 30,000-foot view, we gauge both the optimism and pessimism perspectives of our respondents for the year to come. From a pure projections standpoint, CompTIA projects the global IT industry will grow at a rate of 3.7 percent in 2020, with upside potential in the 5.4 percent range and a downside floor of 1.9 percent.

Secondly, we outline the top trends we see coming down the pike. This year’s trends are heavy on emerging technologies and their impact, along with issues around cybersecurity and the United States’ upcoming presidential election. Here’s the rundown:

  1. Tech-Washing Fades in Favor of Real Strategy
  2. Workforce Diversity Grows in Many Ways
  3. Tech Topics Are Front and Center in U.S. Elections
  4. Hype Meets Reality with Emerging Technology
  5. Internet of Things Continues to Redefine IT Architecture
  6. Artificial Intelligence Eats the World
  7. Demand for Integration Leads to Demand for Automation
  8. Cybersecurity Becomes More Operational
  9. Deep Fakes and 5G Exacerbate the Data Management Challenge
  10. Tech Industry Regulation Stirs Fears

Lastly, we carve out some analysis around two of our organization’s main constituencies: technology professionals working in jobs both in and outside of the tech industry, and then those IT vendors, distributors, and channel providers that operate as part of the core tech industry.

Findings show that the vast majority of technology workers feel optimistic about their role as an IT professional. In the U.S., 86% of IT pros rate their outlook as very good or fairly good. The primary reason for the positive sentiment is high demand for technology skills, which in turn leads to robust career options. There is also a sense that the importance of technology to business objectives makes technology a more integral part of business operations and gives IT pros an opportunity to play a role in the direction of the organization. Conversely, one of the main reasons for concern is the challenge of increasing complexity in business systems and the need for skills diversity.

So how can technology firms and IT professionals use this study? Stay tuned. In future blog posts, my colleague Seth Robinson will describe why the findings in this research are pertinent to those communities.

Read the full IT Industry Outlook 2020 report to get full details on what to expect in the coming year, plus additional data on Canada, the U.K., Benelux and Australia/New Zealand in the International Supplement. Also, be sure to listen to the recent Volley Podcast discussing the IT Outlook.

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