UK businesses are preparing themselves for an upturn in the economy, with IT investments to improve business efficiencies topping their spending plans.
A study of 550 business across Europe conducted by IDC/Microsoft found that UK businesses are the most optimistic in Europe regarding economic improvement over the coming 12 months.
Three out of five UK businesses said they had seen little negative impact from the recent economic conditions, and 56 per cent predicted a positive change within the next 12 months.
At the same time, more than half of UK businesses - 54 per cent - have increased their spending on IT over the last year, with integration and collaboration technologies to improve communications between customers, suppliers, partners and employees earmarked as the top two investment categories.
But despite the optimism, skills issues and cost factors are still holding back IT plans for many respondents.
Just over a third of respondents said that the need for IT systems to deliver rapid return on investment is critical to securing funding for IT projects today.
Richard Robinson, consulting director at IDC, said the research showed that IT had become a tool to achieve business goals and is no longer seen as a goal in itself.
"Although in the current climate the resolve to maximise value and focus on the bottom line has become acute, it's important to remember that no-one ever increased market share by cutting costs alone," Robinson said.
"Key criteria for IT investment are more strategic today than in the technological push a few years back, and we expect this trend to continue," he added.
UK businesses are also far more enthusiastic about mobile technologies than other European countries. Three-quarters of respondents had already implemented technologies for enabling their workforces to be more mobile or to work remotely.
Although the economy was cited as the number -one driver affecting UK businesses this year, 86 per cent still see IT as a key business driver, up almost 10 per cent from 2001. And a quarter of all respondents said technology would regain the number one position within the next two years.
The research was carried out in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK among senior business decision makers at companies employing over 500 staff.
The outlook for UK PLC
- 60% have seen little negative impact from the economic downturn on their organisation;
- 56% believe the economy will improve within 12 months;
- 75% have already implemented a mobile solution to help their employees to work remotely or be more mobile.
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