Gartner has predicted that enterprise IT spending in Europe, the Middle East and Africa will recover in 2011, after almost two years of decline. This is in part due to businesses beginning new software applications replacement cycle. As a result companies are keen to use this opportunity to expand or in some cases kick off their “official” presence within organizations.

But what will be the key differentiator of product x from product y? In my opinion, and 66% of IT leaders, the ability to successfully mobilize services across a range of devices will be fundamental. This is no longer on a company’s wish list but a fundamental requirement as connected devices overtake shipments of PCs in the next 18 months.

Two companies well positioned to take advantage of this environment are Google and Microsoft. Both of them have been bolstering their enterprise credentials, and subsequently competing heavily, throughout 2011.

The competition between the two companies intensified with the launch of Chrome OS, Google’s new operating system, which aims to convince businesses to use the cloud for everything. Microsoft responded by criticizing it’s suitability for business, perhaps taking some PR lessons from Steve Jobs who also recently criticized Android around issues of fragmentation.

The battle for winning the enterprise market over, however, goes far beyond Google, Microsoft and Apple. Traditional telecom service providers, device manufacturers and independent software companies are also looking to develop propositions. A recent example is the MeeGo OS launched by Intel and Nokia, which at launch is available across both smartphone and tablet devices.

As businesses look to extend enterprise applications to the mobile platform, the competition between the biggest players on the market will continue to increase. One advantage is clearly the need to innovate and differentiate, something which was difficult in the monopolised PC world, but this also means they will be faced with an increasingly complex ecosystem to support.