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IBM, Maersk scuttle blockchain-based TradeLens supply chain platform

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Four years after IBM and Maersk first unveiled TradeLens, the companies have announced they will be withdrawing TradeLens offerings and will discontinue the blockchain-based supply chain platform.

The platform will go offline by the end of the first quarter in 2023. Apparently the platform did not attract enough users to be commercially viable.

“The need for full global industry collaboration has not been achieved,” said Rotem Hershko, head of business platforms at A.P. Moller – Maersk, in a statement posted on Maersk’s website. “TradeLens has not reached the level of commercial viability necessary to continue work and meet the financial expectations as an independent business.”

Launched in 2018 and jointly developed by IBM and GTD Solution, a division of Maersk, TradeLens aimed to digitize and simplify global supply chains via a electronic shipping ledger that records details of cargo shipments as they leave their origin, arrive in ports, are shipped overseas and eventually received.

Where the shipping industry’s traditional style of information sharing relied on outdated electronic data interchange (EDI) systems, email, fax, or courier, TradeLens allowed all involved parties in the supply chain to view tracking information such as shipment arrival times and documents such as customs releases, commercial invoices and bills of lading in near real time via its permissioned blockchain ledger.

During its short lifespan, the project built up a network of over 300 members including ocean carriers, terminals, inland depots, customs authorities and intermodal providers.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

3 quick tricks for smarter Android sharing

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Well, I’ll be: We’re currently on the cusp of 20-frickin’-23, somehow. And yet, moving info from your phone to your computer still creates a confoundingly complex conundrum for most of us mere mortals.

To be fair, we’ve come a long way in the 14 years since Android’s arrival on this humble ol’ earth of ours. But when you want to transport some text from your Android device to your Windows or Mac computer — or, Goog forbid, beam a non-photo file from your phone to a computer whose operating system doesn’t rhyme with SchlomeOS — goodness gracious, it sure ain’t easy.

“But wait, Mr. Android Yammering Man!” you might be thinking. “I could’ve sworn I’d read that Google had some sort of fancy-schmancy Nearby Share system that was supposed to fix this once and for all!”

You’re absolutely right, you observant little orangutan. As of now, though, Google’s Nearby Share system works only between multiple Android devices in the same area or between Android devices and Chromebooks that are in close proximity.

That means you’re completely out of luck if you’re using Android with any other computing platform — like lots of productivity-minded mammals do — or if you want to send info from your Android device to a computer that isn’t right in front of you. And while a Windows version of Nearby Share is supposedly in the works, we’ve been hearing about it for nearly a year now. And we’ve yet to see any sign of its arrival.

Not to fear, though — for where there’s a will, there’s a way. And with a few easy-to-manage tricks up your virtual sleeve, you can make virtually any manner of Android-to-computer sharing happen this very second, with virtually no work.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

When fees are ‘taxes’ and free speech costs $8 a month

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Thanks to the Twitter CEO Elon Musk, Apple faces renewed criticism over its App Store fees and whether its insistence on content moderation somehow suppresses free speech. Neither is quite true.

App Store fees: A negotiation in progress

Let’s begin with App Store fees. At present, some developers must pay Apple 30% of from sales of their software or from subscription income. Not all developers do so — in the second year, subscription fees drop to 15% of the take, while developers shifting under a million dollars in value also pay just 15%. (Developers who do not charge for their apps pay no fee at all.)

In exchange, the developers get access to the world’s most secure app store, best-in-the-industry developer tools and the least-fragmented mobile platform. Side note: developers are required to use Apple’s own payment processing systems.

Now, there is a good argument to be made that the fee itself is no longer appropriate. While 30% has become pretty much an industry standard, it has been some time since the costs were weighed against the economies of scale.

At the same time, it seems perfectly appropriate that Apple should be entitled to make a viable business out of App Store provision. That means the argument surrounding fees will inevitably (as I keep saying) become a decision concerning how much they should be, not whether they should exist at all.

It’s a fee, not a tax

Regulators everywhere are scrutinizing these fees and I think it likely some compromise will be reached — but referring to them as an “Apple tax” is inappropriate. It’s no more a tax than any retailer’s markup in any store anywhere, including car dealerships or tunnel boring projects.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Why you must remember to update T&Cs in Apple Business Manager

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When Apple publishes a major OS update, a small number of users may find their device management solution stops working. In most cases, it’s not really a problem at all, just a licensing condition that needs to be resolved.

Make a diary date for T&Cs and other settings

Apple frequently requests its customers approve new terms and conditions (T&Cs) when major OS updates roll out. You probably needed to accept new T&Cs when you upgraded to iOS 16 or macOS Ventura.

The problem for managed device fleets is that if these aren’t approved, certain features may stop functioning. Fortunately, you can easily get your systems working again in Apple Business Manager.

If you open Apple Business Manager with admin access, you’ll find a setting that lets you accept any newly published T&Cs there. This isn’t such an arduous requirement ,as you won’t be expected to tap away to approve permissions for every device — you must just accept each set of new terms once to approve them across all your managed Apple devices. Another benefit is that your users will not be asked to approve the request themselves on their own device; you will already have approved the new T&Cs from the console.

If you don’t approve, things can go wrong

The problem is that until those T&Cs are approved, you may find your fleet unresponsive, newly purchased app licenses unavailable, or newly added devices invisible in Apple Business Manager. If you’re having any of these problems, it’s worth opening Apple Business Manager in admin mode and ensure you’re up to date with T&C approval. Your admins should have been notified of the change, so it’s not a problem most people will have, though you might still encounter it at times, as new staff enter Mac admin roles, for example.

Once you’ve approved the T&Cs, you should find your MDM system begins to work normally once again, though it may take a little time for the change to proliferate across the system.

There are other permissions Apple admins may need to remember to update each year. Device enrollment, Apple Push Notification (APN) service certificate, and Apps and Books tokens all need attention. In most cases, your MDM system should tell you when such a refresh is required. But even the best systems have failures (often when alerts come as key staffers leave or take new positions); you can rectify the problem by either renewing your APN certificate from the same Apple ID you used to create it in the first place, or by following the instructions in Apple’s MDM server configuration or Apps and Books “server token” guides.

In the latter case, you should find the setting you need to adjust in Preferences>Payments & Billing>My Server Tokens.

The method in the madness

The need to refresh permissions and approve T&Cs may seem a little cumbersome, but there is an opportunity locked inside the process: each time you approve things, you also get a chance to review how permissions are assigned. That’s not a huge issue in terms of device management, as you probably keep tabs on who devices are assigned to, but can provide a little benefit in terms of software licensing, as you may identify licenses you no longer need to assign.

The primary lesson is the same as it usually is — when things go wrong, don’t panic — just check that all your settings are up to date. Device management is just like security, after all, nine times out of 10 the biggest problems revolve around human error. I’s the problems you can’t resolve easily that require you to maintain the skill base you need to keep your systems rolling when something more significant goes awry.

Additional improvements in macOS Ventura

Please follow me on Twitter or Mastodon, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2022 Softwaretoolapps, Inc.

Apple has improved Mac MDM with this important feature

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The ever growing numbers of Mac users have always been able to set apps to launch when they log in to their computers, but this has changed in macOS Ventura. Login items are now managed in a different place, and Apple has also made it possible for Mac admins to manage them using MDM software.

Where are my login items?

Traditionally on a Mac, login items were managed in the Users & Groups section of System Preferences. This changes with Ventura — not only have System Preferences become System Settings, but they have been quietly shifted to a new section found in the General category.

Login items are usually applications you’ve asked your Mac to launch automatically at login, but also include other processes such as launch agents or launch daemons that are required for certain applications to work consistently.

If you’re an IT manager running Macs, then you’ll already know that the MDM service you use will have installed launch agents to run on enrolled Macs. These are also found in Login Items.

What changes in macOS Ventura?

The two biggest changes to this approach are as follows:

  • Migrating the setting from Users & Groups to General
  • Making more items that launch at login more visible

The latter means that software components, installer packages, and other items individual applications need that must be launched on startup are now visible.

When installed, users will receive a notification to warn them the installation has taken place and these items can also be disabled in Login Items. This is a big change, as until now such items were frequently invisible to the end user.

[Also read: Apple’s DeskView and Continuity Camera come to Webex]

The Login Items section has also been changed. It now offers two broad categories: Open at Login and Allow in the Background.

  • The former will be home for any application (such as your browser) you want your Mac to open automatically when you log in.
  • The latter will include any background items, such as MDM software.

Users can check and uncheck a box beside these background processes to prevent them working automatically if they wish. They cannot, however, disable MDM system agents; only admins can do that from within the console of their chosen system.

What about admins?

Mac admins can now manage login and background items on their Mac fleets remotely via their choice of MDM software. That means they can insist on some items running on every Mac or disable items that don’t meet security policy requirements.

Apple has also introduced a new SMAppService API, which MDM systems use to manage these items, which is explained here. This is essential as admins attempt to secure Macs in use beyond the standard security perimeter. Apple maintains its mission to make Macs more secure than before.

Are there other changes?

These are not the only changes Apple made in System Settings (Ventura) in comparison to System Preferences (previous iterations of macOS). Not only have these been redesigned to echo Settings on iPads and iPhones, but they feature new sections for:

  • Game Controllers
  • Game Center
  • Lock Screen (which has moved out of Security & Privacy)
  • Desktop & Dock (previously in Desktop & Screen Saver and Dock & Menu Bar)
  • Screen Saver (once available in Desktop & Screen Saver)
  • Wallpaper (also once available in Desktop & Screen Saver)

If you can’t find a specific control because it has been moved, you can use the improved search facility to track it down.

Additional improvements in macOS Ventura

Please follow me on Twitter or Mastodon, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2022 Softwaretoolapps, Inc.

Apple, Google face legal pressure over UK mobile services dominance

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Apple faces yet more regulation as the UK’s competition watchdog launches an investigation into how Apple and Google dominate the market for mobile services.

Control the internet by controlling the browsers

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said it will now investigate both companies for their dominance around browsers, app stores, and cloud gaming.

For insight into that dominance, the CMA points out that 97% of all UK mobile web browsing makes use of either Apple or Google’s browser engine.

The regulator published an initial report in June.

Now it has decided to proceed to a full investigation as browser vendors, web developers, and cloud gaming service providers have complained that the status quo limits innovation and raises costs. As we know, both Apple and Google argue the controls they put in place are designed to protect users.

There are two primary cores to the complaints: the impact of browser control on web developers and that of App Store control on cloud games distribution.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Is ChromeOS right for you? A 4-question quiz to find out

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Google’s ChromeOS is one of the world’s most misunderstood computing platforms. Chromebooks are foundationally different from traditional PCs, after all — and consequently, there are a lot of misconceptions about how they work and what they can and can’t do.

Since people are always asking me whether a Chromebook might be right for their needs, I thought I’d put together a quick guide to help any such wonderers figure it out. Whether it’s you or someone you know who’s curious, the following four questions should help shed some light on what the platform’s all about and for whom it makes sense.

[Get level-headed knowledge in your inbox with my Android Intelligence newsletter. Tips, insights, and other tasty treats await!]

ChromeOS question No. 1: Do you spend most of your time using the web and web-centric services?

Think carefully here, as the answer might surprise you: What do you do most often on a computer?

If the majority of your time is spent in a web browser — whether it’s reading news stories, surfing social media, or using web-centric productivity services like Gmail and Google Docs — then ChromeOS would probably meet your needs just fine. In fact, there’s a good chance it’d actually make things easier than what you’re used to with a traditional PC setup (more on why in a minute).

Now, it’s important to note that just because something is “web-centric” doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be online in order for it to work. One of the most common lingering misconceptions about Chromebooks is that they’re completely useless without an active internet connection. In reality, tons of modern web apps work both online and off, including things like Gmail and Google Docs as well as calculators, calendars, news readers, and even streaming services. (You can browse through the “Offline” section of Google’s Chrome Web Store for lots of examples.)

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

The future of security: smarter devices that protect themselves

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Jamf officially completed its acquisition of Zecops this week. Why is this important and what might it mean to enterprise mobile security? Potentially, a lot.

Security beyond the perimiter

To get an answer to the question, think about how security has evolved. as the proliferation of mobile devices has made traditional security protections even less effective than they used to be.

Mobile devices now account for 59% of global website traffic. But almost half (45%) of companies surveyed in the most recent Verizon Mobile Security Index say they have suffered a compromise involving a mobile device in the past 12 months.

Company firewalls only protect those inside the wall, and retrospective malware checkers by nature don’t detect an attack until it’s taken place.

Traditional security models have now been replaced by the concept of endpoint security, in which security is applied on a device, user, location, and even application basis. It’s this evolving understanding of security that contributes to today’s security industry buzzwords, things like zero trust, multi-factor authentication, and password-free security — all are components of the new approach.

But can devices protect themselves?

Another tactic is the continued attempt to evolve security protection on the device itself, kind of like the Secure Enclave on Apple’s products. But it involves even more: developing systems that are smart enough to recognize whether they have been attacked.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Mosyle brings new iPhone, iPad endpoint security options

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Mosyle is ramping up its wares with new security protections for iPhones and iPad adding more fuel to the Apple-in-the-enterprise fire.

Hardening and compliance options for iPhones and iPads

The company is unveiling its first endpoint security solution for IT admins overseeing fleets of mobile Apple devices. The idea is that the product, Mosyle Hardening and Compliance, ensures that employee devices are protected, compliant, and following the latest cybersecurity benchmarks.

“Over the past few years, Mosyle has extended its reach beyond Apple device management and fused innovative endpoint security solutions into our platform,” said Alcyr Araujo, founder and CEO at Mosyle.

Apple’s growth continues to drive expansion

Apple’s expanding place in the enterprise market is generating renewed interest among hackers in undermining the company’s security models in the chase for money. Just last week, Apple identified and put protection in place against the ninth zero-day vulnerability used against iPhones this year.

Araujo thinks enterprise adopted of Apple adoption is growing fast. He recently explained: “Enterprise customers continue to expand their Apple fleets in ways that makes us believe we’re only now in the initial days of a migration era.”

There are numerous trends driving Apple’s growth. These include the consumerization of IT, the move toward employee choice, Apple’s reputation for security, product reliability and overall lower running costs. Interestingly, Apple recently disclosed that more than half of the Macs it sold in the last quarter went to people new to the platform, further suggesting the depth of Apple’s renaissance.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

6 secret settings for a smarter Chrome Android setup

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Hey. You. Yes, you there — the one with your overly moist eyeballs pointed at the screen. What if I were to tell you that that the browser you rely on for all of your web-based exploring on Android had oodles of extra features — top-secret settings that’d add awesome powers into your mobile browsing adventures and make wiggling your way around this wacky ol’ web of ours meaningfully better?

Well, provided you’re using Google’s Chrome browser for Android, that’s as true as true can be. And best of all, it doesn’t take much to uncover all of Chrome’s carefully concealed treasures — if you know where to look.

The six settings on this page will make your Android-based web browsing more powerful, more efficient, and generally just more pleasant. They’re all just sitting there waiting to be found, too — so really, why not take advantage of what they have to offer?

Before we spelunk any further, though, one quick word of warning: All of these settings are part of Chrome’s flags system, which is a home for under-development options that are still actively being worked on and aren’t technically intended for mainstream use. The flags system is meant for expert users and other similarly informed (and/or insane) folk who want to get an early look at advanced items. It also evolves pretty regularly, so it’s entirely possible some of the settings mentioned here may look different from what I’ve described or even be gone entirely at some point in the not-so-distant future.

What’s more, the flags system has loads of advanced options within it, some of which could potentially cause websites to look weird, Chrome itself to become unstable, or even your ears to start spewing a delightfully minty steam. (Hey, you never know.) So in other words: Proceed with caution, follow my instructions carefully, and don’t mess with anything else you encounter in this area of the browser unless you actually understand it and genuinely know what you’re doing.

[Psst: Love shortcuts? My Android Shortcut Supercourse will teach you tons of time-saving tricks for your phone. Sign up now for free!]

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

The ultimate guide to Android contacts management

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You’d think keeping tabs on your contacts would be about the simplest and most straightforward task imaginable in our modern connected world — wouldn’t you?

I sure would. But as I’ve learned over the years, that perfectly understandable instinct couldn’t be more inaccurate.

Effectively wrangling your contacts on Android and keeping ’em manageable, organized, and optimized for efficiency really is a fine art. And in a way, it’s no wonder: Most of us have reached a point where our phones’ contacts are a sprawling goulash of earthlings from all different eras of our lives — clients, colleagues, college buddies, and, of course, your cousin Carl from Poughkeepsie.

Making matters even more complex is the fact that what constitutes “Android” is a wildly different experience from one device to the next. And most Android phone-makers don’t exactly make it easy for you to make the most of your messy contacts stew.

The good news, though, is that it doesn’t have to be so difficult. Today, we’ll start from square one and get your contacts in tip-top shape, no matter what type of Android phone you’re using or how many unruly old bosses’ email addresses you’ve got stored away.

By the time we’re done, your Android phone contacts will be as orderly as can be — and you’ll be equipped with all sorts of practical knowledge for harnessing their typically untapped potential.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Do you really know what’s inside your iOS and Android apps?

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It’s time to audit your code, as it appears that some no/low code features used in iOS or Android apps may not be as secure as you thought. That’s the big take away from a report explaining that disguised Russian software is being used in apps from the US Army, CDC, the UK Labour party, and other entities.

When Washington becomes Siberia

What’s at issue is that code developed by a company called Pushwoosh has been deployed within thousands of apps from thousands of entities. These include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which claims it was led to believe Pushwoosh was based in Washington when the developer is, in fact, based in Siberia, Reuters explains. A visit to the Pushwoosh Twitter feed shows the company claiming to be based in Washington, DC.

The company provides code and data processing support that can be used within apps to profile what smartphone app users do online and send personalized notifications. CleverTap, Braze, One Signal, and Firebase offer similar services. Now, to be fair, Reuters has no evidence the data collected by the company has been abused. But the fact the firm is based in Russia is problematic, as information is subject to local data law, which could pose a security risk.

It may not, of course, but it’s unlikely any developer involved in handling data that could be viewed as  sensitive will want to take that risk.

What’s the background?

While there are lots of reasons to be suspicious of Russia at this time, I’m certain every nation has its own third-party component developers that may or may not put user security first. The challenge is finding out which do, and which don’t.

The reason code such as this from Pushwoosh gets used in applications is simple: it’s about money and development time. Mobile application development can get expensive, so to reduce development costs some apps will use off-the-shelf code from third parties for some tasks. Doing so reduces costs, and, given we’re moving quite swiftly toward no code/low code development environments, we’re going to see more of this kind of modelling-brick approach to app development.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Jamf Q3 data confirms rapid Mac adoption across the enterprise

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Supply chain challenges and cautious consumer purchasing patterns are affecting most businesses, but the transition to Apple in the enterprise is continuing That movement was confirmed by Jamf during its most recent fiscal call.

Mac, Mac and away

Jamf CEO Dean Hager cited IDC data that showed Mac device shipments declined in Q2, remaining pretty much flat year on year, but observed that for the four preceding quarters IDC pegged Mac shipments as increasing 30% year over year.

Macs accounted for 13% of all PCs sold, “the highest Mac share on record,” he said. His company continues to believe the Mac will become the dominant enterprise endpoint by 2030.

These bullish statements reflect the reality that Jamf, by its very nature, is a company that should be seen as a barometer for Apple proliferation across the enterprise. Hager confirmed continued growth.

The company now supports more than 69,000 customers and its services are being used to manage and secure more than 29 million devices. It is notable that Jamf revenue grew 30% year on year to $124.6 million, for $93.4 million gross profit. This is the 10th consecutive quarter in which the company has exceeded expectations, which speaks volumes for Apple’s growing enterprise business.

The company anticipates 24%+ revenue growth in the current quarter.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Apple to spend $450M on SOS via satellite for iPhones

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Apple has announced it will invest $450 million from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund to develop the  infrastructure that allows off-grid backpackers to call for help when outside mobile coverage.

Is that all there is?

Apple’s iPhone 14 is the company’s first-ever satellite phone. Or to be more accurate, it’s a step toward becoming one. You can’t make calls on it, but you will soon be able to use the satellite connection to send messages to emergency services from across the US and Canada. This could be a life saver.

Apple has said it will offer Emergency SOS over satellite as a free service for the next two years; today’s release confirms it will launch this month.

In a statement, Apple said it is spending $450 million to help put in place the critical infrastructure its Emergency SOS via satellite for iPhone 14 devices requires. That means at least some of this cash is being spent to improve and expand the infrastructure of its satellite partner, Globalstar.

Today’s release specifically cites investments across Globalstar’s existing US ground stations in Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, Puerto Rico, and Texas. Apple also said more than 300 Globalstar employees now support the new service.

The idea that the company is investing millions in a service for off-grid backpackers seems a little far-fetched, so it’s clear that Apple and Globalstar have bigger plans around satellite connectivity and Apple products. They must. Under terms of the deal between the two companies, Apple has agreed to pay 95% of the capital costs associated with the service, and Globalstar intends to launch many more satellites by the end of 2025.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

5 advanced add-ons for the Gmail Android app

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Friends, emailers, internet persons: Lend me your ears — ’cause my goodness, have I got one heck of an incredible Gmail treasure to share with ye today.

It’s an entire system of advanced add-ons that I’m pretty sure has been largely forgotten. I know I’d forgotten all about it until just the other day, when I was poking around in my inbox (as one does) and suddenly found myself making a hilariously cartoony slack-jawed expression whilst guffawing with glee.

And lemme tell ya: If you’re anywhere near as obsessed with efficiency as I am, you’re about to be doing some slack-jawed guffawing of your own.

Let me quickly set the stage before we dive in: These add-ons are part of an official Google Workspace Marketplace platform that I’m pretty sure precisely four people have visited in the past six months. It’s home to a series of tools you can add directly into different Workspace apps and then use without ever having to open anything else or interrupt your workflow.

With Gmail, that means you can bring pieces of other productivity essentials directly into your inbox and tap into their most useful features right then and there.

[Psst: Love shortcuts? My Android Shortcut Supercourse will teach you tons of time-saving tricks for your phone. Sign up now for free!]

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Cloud, services to fuel 3.7% jump in EMEA IT spending in 2023: Gartner

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New research from Gartner shows that IT spending in EMEA is set to see a 3.7%, year- over-year increase in 2023, rising to $1.3 trillion.

While companies are often hesitant to sign new contracts or commit to long-term spending initiatives during turbulent times, enterprise IT budgets are not central to this hesitancy, and as a result, businesses in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) are set to increase their IT budgets in 2023, said Gartner analyst and vice president John Lovelock.

In research released Wednesday at the company’s IT Symposium 2022 in Barcelona, Gartner found that increased spending on cloud software is largely fuelling the spending growth, with EMEA CIOs using cloud-first technologies to drive new initiatives, such as packaged business capabilities (PBCs) and data grids, while maintaining current on-premises environments.

Public cloud services spending in EMEA, meanwhile, is forecast to grow from $111 billion in 2022 to $131 billion in 2023, an increase of 18.2% year over year, Gartner said. Cloud software spending will represent 34% of total enterprise software spending in EMEA.

IT service spend is set to see the second biggest growth rate, rising by 6.6%, as CIOs continue to the lose the battle for talent and are stuck having to employ more IT managed services to plug the gaps, sometimes at great cost.

The research also found that among the most mature markets in Western Europe, UK IT spending is projected to achieve the highest growth rate in 2022, increasing by 8% in British pounds.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Blizzard Reacts To Warcraft 3 Reforged’s Negative Reception

Blizzard Reacts To Warcraft 3 Reforged’s Negative Reception

The release of Warcraft III: Reforged did not go as well as Blizzard would have wanted. Not long after release, fans remarked that the remaster of the iconic RTS was lacking in several areas. Now, Blizzard's president has responded, promising future updates t…