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Gartner's 'augmented reality' on IT spending

The analyst firm seems to have a love-hate relationship with open source, completely forgetting to suggest its use to cash-starved CIOs.

I read with interest ZDNet's report on Gartner's revised IT spending predictions for 2009. The gist? Worst case, IT spending will fall by 2.5 percent, rather than grow by 3.3 percent, with Western Europe and North America the hardest hit.

This doesn't sound so bad, though it's important to remember that Gartner's IT predictions tend to follow the market up or down. In other words, they're a good barometer of what happened last week on the stock market rather than a clear view into the future. If things get worse, Gartner's IT predictions will probably follow them down.

But I don't fault Gartner for not being able to discern the future. Rather, I am confused by its suggestions of where to invest IT dollars. In a list that includes virtualization (good idea), Gartner also suggests spending money on a bevy of buzzwords like "Web mashups" and "semantics," as well as the downright wacky suggestion to invest in "augmented reality."

Where is open source, that low-cost, high-value software development and delivery mechanism? It doesn't make Gartner's top 10, despite being hailed for creating significantly better software and dramatically lower prices.

Indeed, when IDC asked IT and business professionals last year whether open source creates "better quality software," over 60 percent agreed or strongly agreed that it does. How can higher quality at a lower cost not factor into Gartner's suggested IT strategies in a resource-constrained market?

This is perhaps not surprising given Gartner's historical blindspot to open source, but it's a poor service to the CIOs that rely on Gartner for a balanced, rigorous view on IT priorities. It's also not consistent with other Gartner data that suggests that open source is increasingly eating away at proprietary software. Which Gartner should we believe?

Forrester, for its part, does much better in consistently identifying open source's opportunities for enterprises.

Augmented reality? Perhaps Gartner could use some of that.

Chart: The perspective from IDC

Open source creates better software? IDC