Enterprise networks around the world are unprepared for the future, but companies are getting ready to spend, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.
In a survey of 254 executives with control of budgets, 94 per cent said their networks "are inadequate for all of the business challenges of the next two years".
But far from burying their heads in the sand, 61 per cent reported they were planning 'significant' or 'very significant' spending, up from 48 per cent in last year's survey.
"After three years of cost cutting, we don't see an irrational exuberance at board level," said Andrew Palmer, global director of executive services for the Economist Intelligence Unit.
"Instead, we see a more realistic attitude that won't abandon the savings of the past three years. But those surveyed are moving to take advantages of new technologies in their future network plans."
Better network security was the top challenge identified by 78 per cent of respondents, with the ability to keep the network up and running coming second at 70 per cent.
Nigel Lomas, commercial director at VAR Trams, said: "Network security spending is definitely picking up.
"As for the networks, there is a lot of ground to make up in the SME sector. There are loads of products in the area and people are confused about what to buy. Overall, though, most companies we visit have pretty good networks set up and do not need large-scale infrastructure replacement."
As for goals, most of those surveyed said their aim was to set up remote working systems, while two-thirds of those surveyed wanted to get full and secure access to network applications.
Digitising and accessing customer data and ensuring 24-hour network availability were also popular, at 60 per cent.
Dean Murphy, head of mobility for systems integrator Satsuma Solutions, said: "We're starting to see strategies being planned out. But with a mix of remote connection options such as Wi-Fi hotspots and GPRS, companies want to be sure they have a cost-effective solution that allows true mobility."
Voice over IP (VoIP) was the fastest-growing area of potential investment, with more than 50 per cent of those surveyed planning to implement it.
More than 40 per cent are also planning to deploy Wi-Fi and utility computing in their enterprises.
"I'd say VoIP growth will be faster than that," said Rob Bruce, product development director at systems integrator and carrier Redstone Communications.
"Former PBX companies are moving into IP telephony, and improved connection technology means you can deliver VoIP very easily over most platforms."
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