Global business leaders cite IT as key to long-term success

Nearly 60 per cent of 500 senior business executives from across the world surveyed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) see technology as the single most important factor determining success in the global marketplace.

The CEO Briefing: Corporate Priorities for 2005 study used online interviews to canvass the views of these high-level execs on global business trends and issues they believe will shape the corporate agenda over the next three years.

A majority said companies would refocus on technology projects — reversing a three-year trend where the crash had many businesses scaling back IT investments and initiatives.

EIU survey findings indicate high-level executives see technology as crucial to economic success in today’s global economy.

However, they also believe companies will focus new IT investments on connecting and managing relationships between business partners and customers, and on making existing technology work to the benefit of the business.

“Many thought technology was some kind of panacea,” said David Rumer, senior director of marketing with Oracle Corp. in Toronto. He said the crash has made companies far more mature in the way they view technology and implement it. Technology adoption, he said, “should be driven by clear business strategies and objectives.”

“I think (the EIU study) is consistent with what IDC predicted,” said Denis Vance, vice-president and chief research officer for IDC Canada in Toronto.

Vance cited a December 2004 IDC Canada study of high-level executives in Canada’s Financial Post Group of 800 companies. 27 per cent of those executives had said IT investments provide companies with a competitive advantage, while another 40 per cent said such investments deliver real business value.

That IDC study also found Canadian executives are keen to ensure underlying IT infrastructure is stable and not prone to downtime.

According to Vance, such a significant proportion of business is being transacted over some kind of communications infrastructure – the Internet, business-to-business, or business-to-consumer – that those systems need to have “dial-tone reliability. If (they) go down you are cut off from a substantial number of your customers.”

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