By Juan Carlos Perez

Companies will spend slightly more on IT services in 2003 than last year, an increase prompted in part by the purchasing of outsourcing services that help companies reduce costs and improve their IT infrastructure, according to a recent Gartner Inc. study.

Spending on IT services worldwide is expected to reach US$555 billion in 2003, up 3.5 per cent from 2002, Gartner said.

The expected increase also represents a turnaround for the market, which shrank less than one percent in 2002 compared with 2001, to US$536 billion from US$540 billion, Gartner said.

IT budgets are expected to increase next year, as companies improve their financial outlooks and feel the need to invest in IT to remain competitive, Gartner said. Consequently, Gartner forecasts IT services spending to grow 5.2 per cent in 2004 to US $584 billion.