Modelling software firm Real Status, based in Cambridge, said businesses would look to simplify applications. Its research had found that "only about 10 percent of application features are being used in any meaningful way" in most businesses, it said.
Service management will also be a focus for improvement, according to vendor ICCM, with businesses looking for more flexibility. "In recent years we have already seen significant changes in IT service management; its position within a business now reaches far beyond the focus of the IT department," it said.
The need to effectively process big data would, however, drive spending in many large organisations, analysts said. Forrester predicted that business intelligence will become much more "agile, pervasive and limitless" and executives would push for "better, faster insights".
Vendor Netuitive said the key development in analytics would be "how maths-based, IT analytics are starting to enable advanced correlation of real-time data across silos and domains, and from multiple data types – for example application data from APM tools such as CA Wily, IT infrastructure data, and business metrics".
Banks were already using "this type of visibility", it said, allowing administrators "to detect anomalies, drill down to root cause and troubleshoot proactively before they cascade into service degradation and IT outages".
Observers said the data deluge would remain a struggle, in spite of valiant efforts by IT. "In the period to 2015, more than 85 percent of [the largest] organisations will fail to effectively exploit big data for competitive advantage," Gartner said.
Among smaller businesses, vendor Acronis said it was noting a significant increase in interest in its virtualisation technology. "We believe that in 2012 small to medium sized companies will stop talking about virtualisation and actually start to virtualise their IT infrastructure," it said.
But it warned that as virtualisation becomes more common practice, "some key questions surface: who owns the virtual data and therefore, who is responsible for backup & recovery. As the use of virtual servers for business-critical applications grows, data protection will also become a big issue."
In spite of the tough job market, security skills will be in high demand as cloud computing takes off and end users increasingly use their own tablets and phones to handle corporate data.
BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, said that while skills demands were constantly shifting, it expects "information security to continue to be a key skill and management issue - information is one of the most valuable assets organisations own and being able to protect it is vital".
"Deep technical skills will continue to be in demand," it said, but "IT professionals with hybrid skills, those who can combine a high level of technical skills and so called 'soft' skills in roughly equal proportions, will be the most sought after in the future, as they will be able to help their organisation differentiate themselves from their competitors."
Employment website the IT Job Board said that among those with advanced IT knowledge looking for permanent roles, "SQL will be the core skill" next year, with a notable growth in demand in recent months.
The highest demand for contract skills would be in finance roles, and in London, it said.
The highest paid permanent salary, as the new year arrives, is for a Senior Applications Designer – a role that can earn £200,000. Among contractors, the best day rates are across a range of skills, with people earning up to £1,126 for a day's work. But it pointed out that this was the absolute maximum it had seen.
Testing firm SQS Group noted the "meteoric rise" of Agile methodology this year, and said this raised a new skills demand.
"Technology houses will be looking to have not just development staff, but testing, project management and business analysts trained in the Agile methodology."