Aberdeen tracks quarterly financial data for a benchmark group of the 20 largest publicly traded IT suppliers. This group consists of hardware, software and/or IT services companies. The results for Q4 2002 performance, gathered as of February 25, reveal the following:

  • Sequential quarterly revenues increased 9.5 percent over Q3 2002.
  • Year-over-year quarterly revenues increased 1.2 percent.

It is important to note that quarterly revenues follow a seasonal pattern and that the increase from Q3 to Q4 is in line with previous years.
When looking at results for year-over-year revenues, Aberdeen discovered that a more interesting and significant result emerges (Figure 1). Q3 of 2001 saw the bottom of the IT crater with – 12.3 percent growth. A small increase of 1.2 percent in overall revenues is a positive sign and in line with a tepid recovery. Aberdeen attributes this result to the fact that, barring a significant surge in GDP and capital spending, IT suppliers’ revenues will not see a significant uptick. Aberdeen points to the significant price compression that is a hallmark of the current IT industry as one of the chief drivers of this trend.

This recent quarter’s results, in fact, point to another important trend. As Aberdeen has stated before, the IT industry has fallen closer to being in line with GDP growth, a sign of a maturing market. As the overall economy struggles to get out of the doldrums, the IT industry shows signs of doing the same.

Furthermore, IT spending will not be uniformly negative or positive across all sectors. Aberdeen points to several benchmark groups representing individual IT sectors to demonstrate this fact. The Q4 results of these groups are outlined below. It should be noted that, unless otherwise stated, all figures are for year-over-year performance, not sequential results.

Q4 2002 showed a decline in revenues of 3.5 percent for Aberdeen’s benchmark group of 20 enterprise application software vendors. License revenues dropped 1.3 percent for Q4, with service revenues dropping 2.7 percent.

The customer relationship management (CRM) application market (a subset of the entire enterprise application market) continued its decline. The benchmark group for CRM exhibited a total quarterly revenue decline of 8.7 percent.

Aberdeen predicted that the application category would be under continued pressure into Q4 of last year and beyond. Aberdeen’s report, "Technology Forecasting Consortium: 2002 User Buying Intentions – Update (September 2002)" indicated that enterprise application software would continue to be a low purchasing priority among IT executives and that it will most likely not see a broad, sustained turnaround until mid- to late-2003. More recent research included in our latest IT buying report, "Technology Forecasting Consortium: 2003 User Buying Intentions (March 2003)," supports this finding.

Figure 1: Quarterly Year-over-Year Growth for Benchmark Companies by Sector

Benchmark Group Q3 02 Q4 02
Enterprise Applications .2% -1.7%
CRM -5.2% -8.76
EAI -18.6% -6.5%
Security 12.8% 11.1%

Source: Aberdeen Group, March 2003

Aberdeen tracks two additional benchmark groups that consist of software infrastructure suppliers: security and enterprise application integration (EAI). The security benchmark group’s revenue growth remained in the double digits. Quarterly revenues for this group of 28 companies increased 11.1 percent in Q4. This result is a slight decrease using the same metric for Q3 2002, during which revenues increased 12.8 percent. For the 17 publicly traded companies in Aberdeen’s EAI benchmark group, quarterly revenues declined 6.5 percent in Q3 2002. Although negative, this result is an improvement over Q3 2002, during which revenues declined 18.6 percent. Again, Aberdeen’s September 2002 user buying intentions report indicated that IT buyers had a low priority of purchase in this category.

The Q4 2002 revenue figures for Aberdeen’s benchmark groups show mixed results. Although some of the results are disheartening, Aberdeen believes that overall they are in line with a tepid recovery.

There are two key themes finding continuous support in Aberdeen’s research related to IT spending. Continued pressure on suppliers has caused a price deflation in IT products and services that continues to affect IT suppliers’ bottom lines. Second, given reduced growth, suppliers will continue to trim expense as they look to improve profitability.

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