Technology research firm Gartner Inc. said Thursday that worldwide information technology spending is likely to climb 2.5 percent to $3.7 trillion in 2012, down from a prior forecast for a 3.7 percent increase.

Gartner said that the stronger U.S. dollar led to the lower growth rate.

In terms of spending in constant U.S. dollars, IT spending is expected to rise 5.2 percent this year, compared with a previous forecast for a 4.6 percent increase.

Some highlights from the forecast:

  • IT spending in the government sector is expected to contract moderately on a global basis in 2012 and 2013, driven by austerity measures in the eurozone.

“While there has been much commentary about the need for government cuts since the sovereign debt crisis emerged in Europe, it is only now that the impact of government budget cutbacks is being felt on IT spending in the region,” Gartner said.

  • U.S. government spending is expected “to be essentially flat in 2012 before contracting in 2013.”
  • Small to midsize business IT spending is expected to hit $874  billion in 2012
  • The spending will increase to $1 trillion by 2016.
  • Enterprise software will be the top spend for companies

The worldwide telecom equipment market is forecast to show the strongest growth with spending reaching $472 billion in 2012, a 6.9 percent increase from 2011. Gartner attributes this growth to the continued health of the mobile devices market as well as a more positive outlook for enterprise network equipment, which is being driven by spending on application acceleration equipment, network security, WLAN and Ethernet switches.

“Despite ongoing concerns about the global economic recovery — most notably around the resolution of eurozone sovereign-debt problems, worries about the potential for China’s real estate ‘bubble’ to spillover and affect the rest of the economy and rising oil prices — early signs in 2012 suggest that the global economic outlook has brightened a little,” Research Vice President Richard Gordon said in a statement.

The strongest area of growth is expected to be in the telecom equipment market, with spending forecast to climb 6.9 percent to $472 billion. Gartner pointed to continuing strength in sales of mobile devices and a more upbeat outlook for enterprise network equipment.

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