The UAE’s information technology market set for another strong year as economic growth heads northwards and consumer confidence gains momentum.
IT spending  remains vibrant, with the market expected to register around 13 per cent growth to $7.3 billion in 2013 compared to $6.5 billion last year, mainly fuelled by hardware sector — smartphones, computers and media tablets.
“Several refresh cycles are coming up this year which will require increased spending, plus with Windows 8 we are going to see some incremental spending with new computer refurbishments,” Jyoti Lalchandani, vice-president and managing director of IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey , told Gulf News in an exclusive interview.
Spending on hardware is likely to register around 14 per cent growth while IT services to register 12 per cent growth this year.
“Media tablets will grow 37 per cent in value terms, followed by computers by 15 per cent and smartphones by 12 per cent this year as computer refresh cycles happen every two to two-and-a-half years,” Lalchandani said.
UAE is the second biggest market after Saudi Arabia where spending is expected to grow by 15.5 per cent. Qatar, which is hosting the 2022 Fifa World Cup, will see around eight per cent growth.
“Since winning the World Cup bid, the country has accelerated the pace of its infrastructure rollouts. Qatar has emerged as one of the fastest-growing IT markets in the region, with a compound annual growth rate of 15 per cent for the 2006-2011 period. The growth is likely to come after 2015 on infrastructure spending,” he said.
”Bring your own device [BYOD] concept has not gained widespread adoption yet. There are number of challenges the CIOs are facing. The concept will continue to gain momentum. Many large organisations have taken baby steps towards it,” he said.
Consumerisation of smartphones and BYOD are the biggest trends driving the network security market in the region.
“Information security is increasingly emerging as a critical concern in today’s modern business environment. This trend is very much evident in the region where enterprises have experienced threats such as infiltration, data leakage and other cyber warfare,” Kamran Ahsan, head of information security at Injazat Data Systems, said.
He added that data is in the focus as worldwide IP traffic will quadruple by 2015 as two billion people on the internet at the same time with 10 billion internet-connected devices.
SMEs are expected to contribute around 25-35 per cent to IT spending. “Their overall contribution is becoming quite important now,” Lalchandani said.
He said that CIOs in the UAE face many challenges, ranging from a shortage of relevant skills — attracting, developing and retaining skilled staff. Other challenges are proving return on investment on IT and security issues.