Poles set for EU-backed IT spending increase

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Poland, although one of eastern Europe's fastest growing IT markets is lagging behind fellow EU newcomers the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia according to recent research from BMI (Business Monitor International). The research puts average spending per capita per annum at US$205 - which amounts to an IT spend in the country of just 2% of the total IT spending in the EU.

However, spending is set to grow as European funds continue to be made available to the Polish IT sector. Last year, EU funding drove several projects, the IT element of which was reportedly worth almost €1bn. The Polish National IT Infrastructure Plan relies on 75% funding from the EU. Those factors lead BMI to project compound annual growth rate in Poland's IT market of 9% between 2010 and 2014. Much of that will be driven by IT services spend.

There is a marked disparity of penetration within Poland between urban dwellers and their less IT-oriented rural counterparts. Nevertheless, there are a series of anomalies that suggest an unquenched thirst for greater access to technology among the people of Poland. A recent Forrester survey highlighted that, although online banking and PC uptake remain low, Polish internet users already match the online shopping habits of users in southern European countries. Poland outperforms Spain in this area with 30% of online consumers having purchased something on line, while in Spain that figure is 29%.

Poles are also engaging in significant volumes of online activity. A survey by IAB Europe found that, in common with Hungarians and Romanians, 49% of Poles watch TV or video online. When it comes to social networking, 56% of Poles participate in at least some form.

That need to increase IT spending may be turning some Poles to the wireless market. Although uptake of smartphones lags behind western European markets recent research from vendor Qualcomm, revealed at this year's Mobile World Congress, expects smartphone penetration in eastern Europe to double from around 7% to 60 million subscribers this year. That increase will be driven by strong growth in the Polish and Russian markets, according to the company.