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Business and Technology Trends: Frost & Sullivan's Annual CXO Survey

Frost & Sullivan recently published its annual communications and collaboration survey of C-level executives. In the next several weeks, I will post some of the data here. Clients can find several full reports, broken down into subject areas, on In this post, I will look at some of the initial findings around UC&C trends, planning and budgets.

The majority of CXOs report that their infrastructure and IT operations are relatively inefficient and unable to fully address broader business objectives. They appear most concerned about their ability to leverage technology to support new business needs, respond to new regulatory requirements, and allow IT staff to focus on more strategic projects. Less than one-third of respondents believe that their IT and business strategies are well aligned; only 28% believe that IT is able to effectively meet new business needs; a mere 20% claim that IT staff can effectively focus on more strategic tasks.

Businesses spend as much on maintenance and support costs as they do on new UC&C technologies. The majority of executives expect their UC&C budgets to remain the same over the next two years and beyond. In the next 12 months, some anticipate slightly higher budget allocations, primarily due to anticipated company growth.

Indeed, corporate growth and expansion is the primary reason for any increase in spending on communications and collaboration tools, followed closely by advances in the technology itself. Forty percent cite budget limitations and a reduction in spending as the top reason for any future decrease in spending, followed by the general economic environment.

UC&C budgets, as well as budget allocations for related services, vary somewhat by industry but not very much by company size as a proportion of overall spending. Although maintenance and support costs are relatively similar across companies of different sizes, we see a slight increase in the percent of budget allocated to maintenance and support as company size increases. CEOs have significantly larger influence on UC&C budgets than other decision makers within customer organizations.

As might be expected, the IT/Telecom vertical allocates the highest percentage of the IT budget to communications and collaboration technologies. It is also quick to adopt new technologies and delivery models. Healthcare industries also devote a high percentage of budget toward new technologies.

The retail and financial services sectors allocate the lowest percentage of budget toward communications and collaboration maintenance and support costs. Retail services have been among early adopters of hosted services, which explains their reported lower maintenance costs (as these are associated with premises-based solutions).

Implementing a mobile strategy and leveraging social media in the enterprise and with customers are top of mind for the CXOs in our survey. Businesses must address the influx of consumer mobile devices and the growing use of consumer tools in the enterprise (known as the "consumerization of IT"), and the related security and control issues that this trend poses to IT staff. Providers that can effectively and economically deliver business-grade mobility and social media services and integration can gain significant ground among customers.