Here's Who Made Gartner's Inaugural List Of The Top 5 IT Vendors

Whose Technology Do Businesses Want?

Which are the top vendors in IT? For the first time, Gartner has published a ranking of the 100 largest tech companies in the world based on estimates for what their customers will spend on IT (excluding communication services) and component market segments, which include semiconductors and assembled components.

The research firm says technology business leaders can use the list to benchmark competitive performance against a shift from the convergence of social, mobility, cloud and information that drive new business scenarios – what Gartner calls the "nexus of forces" - to digital business as the driver of IT purchasing.

"The needs of IT buyers are shifting. CEOs are focused on growth and are more focused on realizing business outcomes from their IT spend," said John-David Lovelock, vice president and Gartner analyst, in a statement. "The impact of digital business is giving rise to new categories."

Gartner analysts presented these findings during the Gartner Tech Growth & Innovation Conference, which is taking place this week in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Here are the top five, followed by Lovelock's take on the list.

5. IBM

2016 revenue: $77.8 billion

2015 revenue: $79.6 billion

IBM's channel has been transforming in recent years with the "cognitive transformation" of the 105-year-old technology giant. That includes providing channel partners with the opportunity to resell its solution to extend on-premise VMware installations to the IBM cloud. (IBM struck the partnership with the virtualization leader last year.) IBM has also introduced new competencies around security, cloud-based video services, its Watson Internet of Things platform and offering IBM financing to customers.

Big Blue's channel will also move forward under a new channel chief: Marc Dupaquier, announced recently he's leaving at the end of June, and will be replaced by IBM veteran John Teltsch.

4. Microsoft

2016 revenue: $85.7 billion

2015 revenue: $88.1 billion

Partners applauded Microsoft for its recent $100 million acquisition of Hexadite as a way to boost its security offerings, and the vendor continues to battle with Amazon Web Services and Google in the public cloud space. Microsoft Azure now owns 10 percent of the market for public cloud and hosted private cloud infrastructure, according to Synergy Research.

3. Google

2016 revenue: $90.1 billion

2015 revenue: $74.9 billion

The only vendor in the top five to gain in IT spend from 2015 to 2016, according to Gartner, Google is also the only one of the top five whose heaviest business focus is on Internet-based products and services. Google enjoyed triple-digit growth from its cloud platform. Revenue grew more than 100 percent year over year in its last fiscal quarter, according to Synergy Research. Enterprise customers are looking to Google Cloud for mission-critical projects and full migrations, including moving data from on-premises data centers to the cloud, Sundar Pichai recently told investors.

Had the list been built last year based on 2015 revenue, Google would have been fifth, behind Microsoft (which was third) and IBM (fourth).

2. Samsung Vendor Group

2016 revenue: $139.1 billion

2015 revenue: $142 billion

The mobility vendor recently broadened its Internet of Things Artik platform with new features to make deployments of connected devices more secure and easier for channel partners. Artik now enables secure services for device onboarding, allowing customers to automatically onboard hardware into the network. It also offers device and user management services, as well as edge node management services. Artik also enables customers to carry out secure OTA (over the air) updates, so users can manage their fleets once they're deployed securely.

1. Apple

2016 revenue: $218.1 billion

2015 revenue: $235 billion

The company's iOS 11, due out this fall, will include changes it says will be useful for users of both the iPhone and iPad, such as Siri upgrades and interface improvements. In May, CEO Tim Cook said Apple will continue to invest in its desktop computer line. "We're investing aggressively in its future, and we're very excited about the innovation we can bring to the platform," Cook told analysts on the company's most recent quarterly earnings call.

Who Could Break Into The Top Five In 2018?

"The top five aren't going to change," Lovelock told CRN, who noted a big gulf between the revenue levels in that "rarefied air" of vendors, and the rest. But below the top five, he said that Amazon – led by Amazon Web Services - rose from No. 20 to No. 12, while Alibaba jumped from No. 42 to No. 31, which supports Gartner's belief that businesses are plowing more investment toward the growth areas of cloud-driven digital business.

Lovelock specifically cited Amazon and Hewlett Packard Enterprise as being well positioned for more digital business success.

But as for the top five? "That revenue pecking order isn’t going to change much," he said.