Study: Faith-Based IT Opportunities Will Be Worth $40 Billion by 2017

A recent study by a technology research firm has concluded that in five years the value of information technology opportunities that are religiously based will be an estimated $40 billion.

Released in September by Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. and authored by Asheesh Raina and David M. Coyle, the study concluded that religion would heavily influence IT developments.

"The role of religion in generating new business opportunities for the IT industry will continue to evolve and will benefit from ongoing convergence of traditional and emerging trends, with added support and findings from religion experts and sociologists," wrote Raina and Coyle.

"In the next four to five years, religion slowly but steadily will continue to drive and change the way IT is consumed today by generating a significant amount and variety of new IT opportunities and business models."

In an interview with The Economic Times, lead author Raina explained how religions would globally influence and contribute to IT developments and business.

"Religion has a great influence on high-growth regions such as Latin America, Africa, the Arab world and South Asia, thus compelling new entrants and incumbent IT providers to seek new opportunities with religious entities," said Raina.

"A lack of standardization and non-availability of skilled resources in this space will require IT to play a critical role, albeit while treading carefully."

In the 23-page report released by Gartner, the analysts looked at several ways that religious bodies compare to business organizations in their operations, including issues pertaining to "branding," "expansion," "User lock-in," "social initiatives," and others.

From there, the analysts argued that various IT services would be needed for religious groups, especially those in developing nations. Examples that Raina and Coyle cite and explain include advanced security for pilgrimage sites, "media content and broadcasting," services regarding banking and financial endeavors, and social media.

"The IT industry today is at a point where it must leverage religion in emerging markets to attain growth by filling in the technology void created by religious organizations looking to evolve and modernize by prioritizing investments in technology over traditional non-IT spend," wrote Raina ad Coyle.

"This constructive confluence will not only shape the future demand for IT, but also create additional opportunities (which the IT industry is desperately looking for) from the population that stands unbanked, uninsured and not unexposed to IT."

Founded in 1979, Gartner Inc. boasts of being the leading research firm on information technology. Based in Stamford, Conn., Gartner has clients in 85 countries.

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