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IDC sees bright future for network consulting

IDC forecasts that the worldwide network consulting and integration market will enjoy steady growth during the next five years. The Framingham, Mass.-based research firm said the market will grow from $24.2 billion in 2004 to $35.8 billion in 2009.

Research analyst Matt Healey co-authored the report, "Worldwide Network Consulting and Integration Services 2005-2009 Forecast," and spoke with about what is initiating the growth and the effect it will have on enterprises.

With new technologies like VoIP and IPv6, among others, won't there be a need for more consulting?
There will be a need for consulting, but most of it will surround the networks that are already in place. However, opportunities aren't as large now because consulting will focus on optimization rather than installations. In early 2000 and 2001, a lot of money was spent on network equipment, both on the enterprise and service provider side, but now it's all about optimization. Companies are looking to maximize their existing networks' return on investments. What does that mean for enterprises?
By optimizing its network, an enterprise can certainly get more out of it. As it becomes more efficient, the cost of the network will decrease. You also will probably see new technologies such as wireless and RFID become more pervasive. There could be cost-efficiency opportunities there. Does IDC anticipate that developing networking standards will decrease the need for consulting?
I think developing network standards will have an effect on the need for consulting, but I don't think it will decrease it. As network standards become increasingly robust, I think there will always be a need for consulting. In the past year, what trends emerged in the consulting and integration services market?
We identified the beginnings of a recovery in this market. It was led by a recovery from the service providers and increased government regulations on the enterprise side. What trends do you project for the next five years in the consulting and integration services market?
Service providers will continue to upgrade and optimize their networks. On the enterprise side, we see security and government regulations driving much of the increasing expenditures in the next four years. What will spur growth?
Over the longer term, there will be some growth spurred as enterprises look for revenue opportunities -- specifically in things such as radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. We think that will come in light at the end of 2009. I don't know if it will be the next big trend, but it definitely is going to be a growth driver. Did anything in this report make you raise an eyebrow?
What you see in this report is really a continuation of the trends, say, in the past couple of years. I do see these trends continuing over the next few years without enormous shockers along the way. You will see a continuation of the networking world's trends as returns to more traditional growth levels.

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Your research forecasts only an 8.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next five years. Why do you think the growth will be so limited?
Growth is limited because the network world is just beginning to recover from the past few years' economic restraints. Growth will be slow for the next few years as everything returns to traditional levels.

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