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IT directors are either oblivious to, or sceptical about the benefits of new products - despite growing confidence in the economy and bigger budgets at their disposal. 3G services, tablet PCs and Blade servers are all apparently causing confusion.

Andrew Brown, IDC’s mobile computing head, told The Register that businesses didn’t want to hear jargon or product names: “3G is a great example. People don’t understand what it means, but it's just more capacity and bandwidth. Many (26 per cent) are also uncertain and are waiting to see proof of genuine business benefits."

He argues that operators need to learn to sell a business case, not a product. “No one should talk about ‘3G’. It should just be a part of mobilising enterprise applications.”

As the mobility issue shifts responsibility for voice away from admin and under the wing of the IT department, 2004 will be a growth year for computer systems as a whole, IDC said. Linux will continue to gain, too: 48 per cent of Linux servers purchased in 2003 were used for new application deployment, compared with about 31 per cent for both Windows and Unix.

Reputation will be key to success, however, with most of the companies surveyed ranking trustworthiness and price above technology leadership.

Chris Ingle, IDC's EMEA group consultant, reckons that “buyers are unconvinced by many propositions that are being promoted by vendors” and is betting that vendors who can show customers how a product fits into existing infrastructure will win the day. ®

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