Intelligent Approach to Technology Drives Britain’s High-Growth Businesses

British businesses that embrace new technologies and new ways of working, and that have support from management for investing strategically in information technology (IT), grow faster as a result, according to new research released today by Cisco.

A survey titled ‘IQ of the British Network’ polled more than 600 business and IT directors across the UK in companies ranging from 20 to 1,000 employees, providing one of the most detailed views yet published of British businesses’ use of technology. The study clearly highlights a relationship between strategic IT adoption and business success.

The vast majority (78 per cent) of business leaders polled believe their IT network is very important or vital to their business, with just one in 10 viewing the IT network as a static ‘pipe’ for data. The poll establishes that business leaders of high-growth companies (where turnover has increased by more than 15 per cent in the past year) are:

– More likely to view their IT network as a vital, strategic asset than companies with static (zero) growth (59 per cent vs 40 per cent).

– Twice as likely to have flexible working capabilities.

– Nearly seven times as likely to offer Wi-Fi networking across their offices (20 per cent vs 3 per cent).

– More robust information security capabilities and more confidence in their ability to retrieve data on demand (for compliance or audit purposes, for example).

Organisations surveyed were polled on a range of IT subjects, from collaboration and communication to information management and environmental impact. Their responses were weighted on a scale devised by Cisco, and the scores added to yield overall ‘Network IQ’ scores. High-growth businesses had the highest Network IQ, with the scores sliding progressively lower as company growth became lower, clearly linking the strategic use of IT and company growth.

‘With British businesses contending with increasingly tight markets, stronger competition from overseas, and key labour shortages at home, companies are turning to strategic technology investments to help them improve operational efficiency, cut costs and drive business growth’, said Nick Watson, vice president for enterprise business, Cisco UK & Ireland.

‘However it is clear from the research that without support from business managers, technology investments alone cannot necessarily drive positive business outcomes’, Watson continued. ‘The IT network can provide the platform for new and productive working experiences, but the bottom-line growth is only really guaranteed when executives show leadership and support for IT in their organisation’.

While Cisco’s ‘IQ of the British Network’ study revealed that IT management believes improving operational efficiency, enabling business growth and containing costs are the three most important factors affecting IT investment over the next 12 to 18 months, almost a fifth (18 per cent) of business managers believed their organisation was being held back because it did not know where to invest in IT to get the best return.

On the other hand, business managers’ top concern was finding and retaining the most talented staff. Despite this, 47 per cent of business managers said their company did not allow remote or teleworking, and 38 per cent said they allow staff to work remotely or from home only under certain circumstances. The apparent unease with remote and home working among business managers was reflected in IT investment plans, with home working ranking as the lowest influencing factor on IT managers’ technology investment priorities over the next 12 to 18 months.

The study also showed that smaller businesses still lag behind their larger counterparts in technology adoption and outlook, with SMBs (20-250 employees) having a lower average Network IQ score than larger enterprises (251-1,000+ employees). In particular, wireless network adoption (41 per cent vs 64 per cent) and remote/home working technology capabilities (46 per cent vs 67 per cent) were lower in SMBs than in larger businesses.

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