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The Secret of Business Growth in 2010

Having had their fill of the economic downside, business leaders are truly ready for the eventual upside. Apparently, U.S. companies are preparing for a global economic recovery to begin in the first half of 2010, according to a new "Road to Growth" market study from AT&T.

Key study findings include the following insights:

Business Agility and ROI Pressures
In today's economic climate, U.S. companies have significantly shortened the time frame over which a Return on Investment (ROI) is delivered.

More than half of U.S. IT executives stated they are under pressure to deliver a return on investment in half the time than their previous efforts. As a result, two-thirds cited that the change has affected their IT budgets, strategies and priorities.

The study found that companies are less willing to invest in longer-term projects -- where the return does not come quickly. One CIO stated that IT projects must give at least a 100% ROI in 12 months -- otherwise, the project is terminated.

Shrinking Costs, While Growing the Upside
No surprise, regarding the top-of-mind challenges. Cost cutting and increasing revenue remain the two primary business goals. To achieve those objectives, survive the recession and move towards growth, business technology strategies are focused on:

Reducing operating costs: 87 percent cited "reducing operating costs" as "extremely or very important." Improve collaboration with customers and partners: 85 percent cited "improved collaboration with customers and partners" as "extremely or very important." Enhancing workforce performance and productivity: 83 percent cited "enhancing workforce performance" as "extremely or very important."

Rise of the Any-Term Business Strategy
The study found that U.S. companies employ multiple strategies to address business goals, and do not distinguish between short-term and long-term strategies. It appears that U.S. companies are reducing the time period for their long-term forecasting until after the recession is over.

Moreover, the role IT plays in helping U.S. companies achieve long-term strategies is very similar to the role IT plays in supporting a company's short-term business strategies.

Ongoing Role of Business Technology
IT investments and priorities are very focused in a couple of key areas. The study found that "business continuity and security solutions" will have the biggest positive impact on business growth as U.S. companies prepare for an economic turnaround.

This is closely followed by "enterprise mobility solutions" and "Web delivery solutions." Areas of IT investment that are expected to have a high to moderate impact on businesses are "unified communications services" and "hosted solutions."

For more information, and a copy of the executive summary, visit the AT&T Road to Growth Study on their website.