Worldwide IT spending is forecast to reach $3.8 trillion in 2021, an increase of 4% from 2020, according to research firm Gartner, but still shy of pre-pandemic levels. IT spending in 2020 is expected to total $3.6 trillion, down 5.4% from 2019.\nCertain industries facing prolonged lockdowns due to COVID-19, such as entertainment and air transport, have cut IT spending by more than 30% in 2020, according to Gartner, which delivered the current outlook for the global IT market at its virtual IT Symposium\/Xpo 2020 Americas. \u00a0\n\nLearn more:\n\n Gartner's top 9 strategic technology trends for 2021\n VMware highlights security in COVID-era networking\n10 things to know about Cisco's certification overhaul\nCOVID-19 best practices for data center operators\n\n\nBack in May, Gartner's forecast was more dire; the firm had projected IT spending across the globe to total $3.4 trillion in 2020, a decline of 8% from 2019, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.\nAccording to the latest forecast, all IT spending segments \u2014 including data center systems, IT services, communications services, enterprise software and device spending\u00a0\u2014 are set to decline in 2020. However, enterprise software spending should have the strongest rebound in 2021 with an anticipated gain of 7.2%. That spending will be largely due to enterprise digitalization efforts, the need to increase support for a remote workforce, and the need to deliver virtual services such as distance learning or telehealth, according to Gartner.\n"In the 25 years that Gartner has been forecasting IT spending, never has there been a market with this much volatility," said John-David Lovelock, distinguished research vice president at Gartner. "While there have been unique stressors imposed on all industries as the ongoing pandemic unfolds, the enterprises that were already more digital going into the crisis are doing better and will continue to thrive going into 2021."\nThe spending slowdown that took place from roughly April through August of this year, coupled with cloud service providers' "try before you buy" programs, is shifting cloud revenue out of 2020, Lovelock said.\n"Cloud had a proof point this year \u2014 it worked throughout the pandemic, it scaled up and it scaled down. This proof point will allow for accelerated penetration of cloud through 2022."\nIn its top strategic technology trends for 2021 presentation this week, Gartner said the concept of distributed cloud \u2014 where cloud services are distributed to different physical locations, but the operation, governance and evolution remain the responsibility of the public cloud provider \u2014 will continue to grow. By 2025, most cloud service platforms will provide at least some distributed cloud services that execute at the point of need, the analysts said.\n"Companies have more IT to do and less money to do it, so they are pulling money out of the areas they can afford, such as mobile phone and printer refreshes, which is why there will be less growth in the devices and communications services segments," Lovelock stated.\nGartner said that spending on data center systems will experience the second highest level of growth\u00a0\u2014 5.2% \u2014 in 2021 as hyperscalers accelerate global data center buildouts and enterprise organizations resume data center expansion plans and let staff return to work onsite.\nIn a recent data center spending report, Gartner said spending on global data center infrastructure is projected to reach $200 billion in 2021. Despite a 10.3% decline in data center spending in 2020 due to restricted cash flow during the pandemic, the data center market is still expected to grow year-over-year through 2024, according to Gartner. \u00a0\n"The priority for most companies in 2020 is keeping the lights on, so data center growth is generally being pushed back until the market enters the recovery period," said Naveen Mishra, senior research director at Gartner, in a statement. "Gartner expects larger enterprise data centers sites to hit pause temporarily and then resume expansion plans later this year or early next."