The US economy continues to show improvement – for example, today’s news that new jobless claims were near a four-year low. As the economy outlook has improved, so, too, have prospects for the US tech market. In our updated Forrester forecast for US tech purchases, "US Tech Market Outlook For 2012 To 2013: Improving Economic Prospects Create Upside Potential," we now project growth of 7.5% in 2012 and 8.3% in 2013 for business and government purchases of information technology goods and services (without telecom services). Including telecom services, business and government spending on information and communications technology (ICT) will increase by 7.1% in 2012 and 7.4% in 2013. 

The lead tech growth category will shift from computer equipment in 2011 to software in 2012 and 2013, with and IT consulting and systems integration services playing a strong supporting role. Following strong growth of 9.6% in 2011, computer equipment purchases will slow to 4.5% in 2012, as the lingering effects of Thailand's 2011 floods hurt parts supply in the first half and the prospect of Windows 8 dampens Wintel PC sales until the fall. Apple Macs and iPad tablets will post strong growth in the corporate market, though, and server and storage should grow in the mid-single digits. 

Software growth will occur across all categories, but SaaS applications, general business intelligence products, and specialized analytical tools will have the strongest growth. These products will help pull total software sales growth up to 11.4% in 2012 and 12% in 2013. IT consulting and systems integration services will also see good growth, though the relatively slower growth in licensed software apps compared with SaaS apps means less-than-historical demand for systems integration support to implement the newly purchased software.

Lagging sectors will be communications equipment, where declines in purchases by carriers and softer demand for network gear by corporations and governments will lead to just 2.7% growth in 2012; IT outsourcing, with 6% growth due to competitive pricing and smaller deal sizes; and telecommunications services, where the stagnation of wireline sales will offset stronger growth in wireless service purchases. 

In terms of industry sectors, spending growth in 2012 will be strongest in retail and wholesale (as revived consumer spending helps fund investments in analytics, supply chain, and mobility) and media, entertainment, and leisure (where the digital revolution forces content providers to invest in online and mobile channel support).