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IT industry: software and services

Research guide

Published: 28 Feb 2019 Updated: 15 Dec 2020 Update History

Exclusive content
Access to our exclusive resources is for specific groups of students and members.

Use our industry guide to find key background information, market research, import and export guidelines, statistics, legislation, trade bodies and trade publications.

The Business & Industry Guides series is produced by the Library & Information Service for ICAEW members and ACA students.

We can compile tailored key players reports, mailing lists, market reports, benchmarking reports and industry news. Our enquiry team can also research other industry-specific information, such as taxation, for you. Call us on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or email library@icaew.com.

Trends and forecasts

Online articles

The library provides full access to articles from leading business, finance and management journals.

Access to articles is provided subject to suppliers’ terms of use.

Croner-i Business Focus

Business Focus is a resource that provides Industry Snaphots for a range of sectors. These contain an overview of developments, trends and statistics for the industry together with an outlook for the future. Sectors covered include Digital and Tech.

To find out more about Business Focus, please contact our enquiry team on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or at library@icaew.com.


The Library provides full text access to a selection of key business and reference eBooks from leading publishers.

The FINTECH Book: The Financial Technology Handbook for Investors, Entrepreneurs and Visionaries
Susanne Chishti and Janos Barberis (John Wiley & Sons, 2016)
A guide to the financial technology revolution and the opportunities it provides for entrepreneurs, bankers and investors. Includes current trends, latest industry developments and the future of FinTech.

You are permitted to use this eBook subject to individual supplier terms of use.

Useful links

The decoupling of Russia: software, media and online services
Post from the European think tank Bruegel which looks at the current picture in the sector and the complex impacts of the decoupling. Published on 22 March 2022.

IT Industry Outlook 2022
Publication from technology association CompTIA providing insight into the trends shaping the IT industry, its workforce and its business models

Trust is everything - tech and media predictions 2022
Briefing from global law firm Taylor Wessing predicting key trends in the tech and media sector for 2022. Published in December 2021

Technology Trends 2019
Annual publication from PwC Strategy& looking at major trends and innovations shaping the global technology industry.

15 Predictions For The Next Big Thing In Software Development
Post by the Forbes Technology Council on the latest trends in software development. Published by Forbes on 5 October 2018.

OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2020
Detailed report with data and analysis published by the OECD in November 2020 covering trends in ICT and the digital economy. Chapters examine access and connectivity, ICT usage and skills, innovation, digital risk and trust. The technology outlook section discusses artificial intelligence and blockchain.

Market research

Market research reports focusing on this business sector are available from a number of market research specialists. In most cases these reports are available to fee-paying subscribers or on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Industry profiles and SWOT analyses

Industry profiles give an overview of market size in different countries or regions, the competitive landscape and provide a forecast of market performance. These profiles are available exclusively for ICAEW members and ACA students through the Library & Information Service.

Regional reports




Latin America

North America


If you’re looking for industry profiles for regions or countries not listed above, please contact the Library on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or email library@icaew.com.

SWOT analyses examining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for major companies operating in this sector are available.

If you experience any problems accessing these resources, please see our online resources troubleshooting FAQ.

Other market research specialists

Some free information is available from the following market research specialists, ranging from industry news to executive summaries of the reports.

Business and industry research specialists offering reports on a wide range of sectors. Topics include app development, computer consultants, data processing and hosting services, internet service providers, search engines, software development and software publishing. Report snapshots, table of contents and a sample report are available. The company also produces global industry research reports.

Reports covering the UK software market with the option to view the summary and a table of contents.

Industry news

Need to find the latest news on this industry sector? We can carry out industry news searches using a range of trade titles and general business sources through our databases. To discuss your requirements, please contact the enquiry team on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or at library@icaew.com.

Statistics on the UK

Office for National Statistics

The Annual Business Survey (ABS) from the Office for National Statistics collects financial information covering UK production, construction, distribution and service industries. Statistics available include:

  • number of enterprises;
  • total turnover;
  • approximate gross value added at basic prices;
  • total purchases of goods, materials and services;
  • total employment – average during the year;
  • total employment costs;
  • total net capital expenditure;
  • total net capital expenditure – acquisitions;
  • total net capital expenditure – disposals;
  • total stocks and work in progress – value at end of year;
  • total stocks and work in progress – value at beginning of year;
  • total stocks and work in progress – increase during year.

The dataset Non-financial business economy, UK: Sections A to S includes statistics for:

  • Wholesale of computers, computer peripheral equipment and software (46.51)
    See Division 46: Wholesale trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles
  • Retail sale of computers, peripheral units and software in specialised stores (47.41)
    See Division 47: Retail trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles
  • Software publishing (58.2)
    See Section J: Information and communication
  • Computer programming, consultancy and related activities (62)
    See Section J: Information and communication
  • Information service activities (63)
    See Section J: Information and communication

Statistics on Europe


Eurostat, the EU statistics hub, collates detailed Structural Business Statistics giving the latest figures for industry, construction, trade and services by sector and country. The indicators available include:

  • number of enterprises
  • turnover or gross premiums written
  • production value
  • value added at factor cost
  • gross operating surplus
  • wages and salaries
  • social security costs
  • gross investment in tangible goods
  • gross investment in land
  • gross investment in existing buildings and structures
  • gross investment in construction and alteration of buildings
  • gross investment in machinery and equipment
  • number of employees
  • number of persons employed per enterprise.

Statistics within the database are available for:

  • Wholesale of computers, computer peripheral equipment and software (G4651)
    See database section ‘SBS – trade’
  • Retail sale of computers, peripheral units and software in specialised stores (G4741)
    See database section ‘SBS – trade’
  • Software publishing (J582)
    See database section ‘SBS – services’
  • Computer programming, consultancy and related activities (J62)
    See database section ‘SBS – services’
  • Information service activities (J63)
    See database section ‘SBS – services’

Statistics on the Americas


Technology association CompTIA published a Tech Trade Snapshot in May 2018. It provides data for 2017 on US tech exports including IT services.

Global statistics

Business Software Alliance (BSA)

The BSA produces an annual global software survey estimating the volume and value of unlicensed software on personal computers across more than 110 national and regional economies.


From 1996 to 2016 KPMG produced the biennial report and database Competitive Alternatives comparing business costs and trends by location across mature and high growth markets around the world. Some documents are still available via MMK Consulting's Competitive Alternatives Study Archive which provide insight into cost components for the software development sector.



Office for National Statistics

Average employment costs within this sector are available from Table 14 of the Office for National Statistics publication Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE). Average employment costs are provided for full-time employees, part-time employees and all employees.

The data includes average employment costs for:

  • IT specialist managers
  • IT project and programme managers
  • IT business analysts, architects and system designers
  • Programme and software development professionals
  • Web design and development professionals
  • IT engineers

Other regions

Please see individual country profile pages for links to sources of national statistics.

UK business guides

Croner-i Business Focus

Business Focus is a resource that provides practical information on many small business trades and sectors. Its Business Opportunity Profiles offer detailed insights into market conditions, legal issues and the trading environment for a range of businesses. They include:

  • IT consultant
  • IT trainer
  • Web designer

Mini Business Opportunity Profiles are also available and provide a general introduction to more niche business areas, including:

  • Freelance app developer

To find out more about Business Focus, please contact our enquiry team on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or at library@icaew.com.

Atom Content Marketing guides

The Start Up Donut from Atom Content Marketing provides practical information on starting up and running a number of small business types. Guides cover a range of areas including market research, current trends, regulations, products and services, promotion and pricing. They include:

Legislation and regulation

2018 BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard
Report by the Business Software Alliance examining the legal and regulatory framework of 24 countries and ranking their preparedness for the adoption and growth of cloud computing services.

UK key players, ratios and trends

We can produce reports on this sector using selected information from the FAME company database. Reports are available for:

  • Wholesale of computers, computer peripheral equipment and software
    UK SIC (2007) Code 46.51
  • Retail sale of computers, peripheral units and software in specialised stores
    UK SIC (2007) Code 47.41
  • Software publishing
    UK SIC (2007) Code 58.20
  • Computer programming activities
    UK SIC (2007) Code 62.01
  • Computer consultancy activities
    UK SIC (2007) Code 62.02
  • Computer facilities management activities
    UK SIC (2007) Code 62.03
  • Other information technology and computer service activities
    UK SIC (2007) Code 62.09
  • Data processing, hosting and related activities
    UK SIC (2007) Code 63.11

Summaries of the three types of report we can produce are given below. You can find further information, a sample report, pricing details and an online order form on our industry sector reports page.

We also operate a bespoke reports service with results tailored to your specifications. Please contact our enquiry team on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or at library@icaew.com to discuss your requirements.

Key players report

Our key players report looks at the top companies (by turnover) in any one of the segments within this sector. Reports usually include the top 100 companies but in more specialised sectors with fewer than 100 companies we show all companies with disclosed figures. The reports provide data on 11 comparative fields for the last available year, including:

  • turnover;
  • profit margins;
  • returns on shareholder funds;
  • solvency ratios
  • number of employees.

Our reports enable easy comparison of the top companies in this sector against each other and against the sector median, average and standard deviation in each of the 11 fields.

Mailing list

A separate mailing list report is also available with address and contact details for the top companies in any of the segments within this sector.

Market reports

Our market reports look at the aggregated data for the top companies (by turnover) for any of the segments within this sector across all the fields usually found in a company report. The reports include data for the last 10 years* and enables easy comparison of trends for the whole sector. Reports usually include the top 100 companies but in more specialised sectors with fewer than 100 companies we show all companies with disclosed figures.

*Please note the number of companies for which data is aggregated will vary for any given year.

The market reports include sections on:

  • key financials and employees;
  • profit and loss account;
  • balance sheet;
  • cash flow statement;
  • financial ratios;
  • financial trends and changes;
  • profitability trends and changes.


BVB Insights
Annual report providing the latest transaction multiples broken down by industry. Each section includes a summary of recent deals with EBITDA, average transaction size and expert analysis of current trends within each industry.
The IT sector includes:

  • Cloud computing
  • Internet information services
  • IT consulting and other services
  • Software - application

ICAEW members, ACA students and Forensic/Valuation Group subscribers can download an overview of the report with headline industry multiples. Information on individual deals can be supplied by the Library on request.

UK benchmarking

We offer benchmarking reports that can be used to inform your own business strategy or help you identify value-added services to offer to your clients.

Contact the enquiry team directly on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or at library@icaew.com for a report tailored to your own specific requirements.

Trade bodies

Trade journals and publications

Trade journals, B2B magazines and specialist consumer magazines are another useful source of news and statistics.

Further reading

Articles and books in the Library collection

To find out how you can borrow books from the Library please see our guide to book loans.

You can obtain copies of articles or extracts of books and reports by post or email through our document supply service.

Can't find what you're looking for?

The ICAEW Library can give you the right information from trustworthy, professional sources that aren't freely available online. Contact us for expert help with your enquiries and research.

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