By Marcus Leach

Business leaders are expecting wrenching change to their industry sectors in the future, due to the impacts of technology, according to the latest executive summary by the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Ricoh.

The research, set for full release in March 2012, reveals more than one third (37 per cent) of leaders surveyed believe their organisation will be unable to keep up with technology and they will lose their competitive edge.

One third of IT industry leaders believe their businesses will disappear altogether, while six out of ten survey respondents believe the markets in which they operate will significantly alter between now and 2020 and will bear little similarity to today.

Respondents also indicated how they could also see standard business structures changing in the future:

· 63 per cent predict a shift to decentralised structures with a far-reaching devolution of business decision-making authority to the periphery of organisations.

· Respondents believe that customers will in the short term generate almost as many new ideas for the improvement of business processes as employees and, by 2020, will create the majority of new product or service ideas.

· 59 per cent of those surveyed agree that the concept of non-digital information will be utterly foreign to most employees by 2020.

“Despite the uncertainty for some when anticipating the future, the majority of business executives (70 per cent) agreed there were significant opportunities for technology to improve the way they conduct business and there are plenty of gains to be made in improving operating efficiency," Denis McCauley, Economist Intelligence Unit said.

"What is certain is that technology will continue to be a source of continued change to markets and industries between now and 2020.”

Phil Keoghan, CEO, Ricoh UK, believes investment in changing technology is critical for businesses.

“Over the last two decades, the business world has experienced more change than at any other time as a result of rapid technology development and its increasing adoption by employees and customers," he said.

"As businesses are planning ahead for technology spend in 2012, we believe those that invest in process innovation to maximise connecting business critical information, from both digital and non-digital sources, inside the organisation will be the ones on the path to success in 2020."

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