By Daniel Hunter

Businesses stand to reap huge benefits from reducing the number of IT contracts they have in favour of fewer suppliers according to in-depth research carried out with 500 Chief Information Officers (CIOs).

The majority of CIOs believe that by downsizing to just one IT provider they could save over £1 million every year.

CIOs said that they’d be able to offer far greater flexibility to staff as a result of having fewer suppliers and combining technologies, giving employees the chance to work in the way that suits them best.

In the same study senior business leaders told us that if employees were given the ability to work wherever and however they choose they would be much happier and absenteeism would fall by an average of 10 per cent.

According to the Confederation of British Industry absenteeism costs the UK economy £17 Billion every year, so reducing it by 10 per cent translates into whopping £1.7 billion cash injection for the UK economy.

The study by Virgin Media Business with senior IT professionals and business leaders uncovered that the average UK enterprise spends a total of £4 million on workplace technology every year. This is typically spread across around seven separate IT suppliers. By running phone, internet, video and multimedia over a single network and with fewer suppliers, organisations would stand to save a fifth of their budgets year-on-year.

What’s more, IT departments at businesses across the UK are wasting nearly six working weeks (5.8 weeks) every year maintaining or renewing these complex contracts.

Three quarters of those surveyed believed that employees would be much happier and more productive given the ability to work remotely or on the move. And an overwhelming majority agreed that they’d love to be able to give employees the ability to use new devices like smartphones and tablets to carry out everyday tasks, believing that it would make it easier for workers to collaborate, from wherever they are.

As businesses battle to hang on to the best talent and attempt to attract first class graduates, they could lose out to organisations that are better equipped to offer greater flexibility and greater work-life balance.

“In the past, the workplace has been a monochrome, inflexible place which hasn’t allowed staff to work in a way that lets them flourish and this research shows this is now costing organisations money. CIOs can clearly see there’s an opportunity to encourage a new connected collaboration culture which capitalises on people’s differences rather than working around them,” explained Duncan Higgins, director of product and marketing, Virgin Media Business.

“New technology is making it easier than ever to work flexibly. But the majority of businesses are still hesitating. Having to deal with loads of different suppliers is turning into a huge turn-off, sometimes making it seem like more trouble than it’s worth.

"Yet our study shows the benefits of embracing different working styles, it’s time for businesses to take the plunge with a helping hand from service providers. It’s an opportunity to review the number of suppliers they deal with, identify where services can come together, and then start reaping the rewards."

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