According to 58 percent of executives in this year"s Economist Intelligence Unit CEO Briefing, which was cosponsored by Dimension Data Holdings PLC, advances in technology are the most critical driver of change in the global marketplace, up from 37 percent two years ago.
The report lists the top three strategic priorities for companies over the next three years as being: lowering costs and maximizing competencies (47 percent); increasing customer satisfaction (46 percent); and performance and process improvements/operational efficiency (36 percent).
It is not surprising, therefore, that business enthusiasm for the "transformational power of technology" has been renewed. For most executives surveyed, the focus for organizational change is on sharing information more quickly and widely across the enterprise -- this was cited by 77 percent of executives surveyed this year, compared with only 58 percent last year. The IT tools available to businesses, in particular, the Internet, mobile data systems and business intelligence solutions, are said to be key to ensuring that companies deliver on these strategic priorities.
Derek Wilcocks, executive director of strategy, Dimension Data SA, commented: "Businesses today are looking to technology to work for the benefit of the business. Technology is no longer an isolated function; when it is viewed as an enabler to deliver on strategic initiatives it is an extremely effective tool, delivering not only operational efficiency, cost reduction and customer satisfaction, but also contributing significantly to ensuring corporate governance compliance with regards to monitoring, management and performance optimization."
The report indicates that 3G, a technology that has been talked about by many and often, will at last have an impact on consumers in 2005. It is also expected that, with further penetration of cheap, high-speed broadband, a new generation of Internet media and entertainment applications will materialize. The transformation of the workplace is being led by portable computers and technology that is assisting in the distribution of knowledge and information through complex mobile networks.
Mobile and wireless technology has become fundamental for 20 percent of executives, with flexible working trends and wireless technology becoming more commonplace. The Internet is omnipresent and critical for 45 percent of companies taking part in the survey. In a separate survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit it is suggested that VoIP will also help companies rationalize their communication infrastructures over the next three years.
Gareth Lofthouse, author of CEO Briefing: Economist Intelligence Unit, comments: "Companies are once again turning to technology to connect and streamline their operations, improve knowledge sharing and increase management"s ability to sense and respond to market change."