By Max Clarke

Businesses in the UK are increasingly turning to technology in order to build a mobile staff and create a flexible workplace.

Respondents of a recent survey reported they were planning to spend more money on IT over the next 12 months and specifically buy smartphones and tablets for their business. The survey found 35% of smaller businesses plan to make more strategic IT investments and spend more money on new technology compared to last year. In particular, the research reveals that buying smartphones and tablets is rising up firms’ agendas, with 28% of those surveyed viewing purchasing portable devices as a main priority.

NETGEAR®, Inc. (NASDAQGM: NTGR) conducted a survey examining small business attitudes about investing in IT innovation. The research targeted 300 business owners and IT managers in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) employing.

Despite looking to add portable devices onto the network, the majority of SMEs are not considering the effect it may have on their existing infrastructure. The survey shows that businesses are already experiencing problems with their existing networks: 35% experienced slowness while using the internet and nearly a third experience lengthy delays when starting their email. However, as a flux of smartphones and mobile tablets are brought onto the corporate network, only 30% of those polled view upgrading their network’s capacity to deal with the demand of these additional devices as a high priority.

Laurent Masia, Product Line Manager of Managed Infrastructure at NETGEAR, stressed the impact that portable devices could have on businesses’ networks and business operations. “Business owners and IT managers clearly see the benefits of building mobility into their workforce through portable devices. However, the majority do not realise the importance of having a modern network to support these modern devices,” he said.

“Businesses will be spending thousands of pounds if they invest in tablets and smartphones but these devices need a fast and reliable network to work properly. If they cannot connect to the internet or access business applications they are practically useless.”

The research also indicates that businesses are already adopting innovative, yet data-intensive, technologies. Over a quarter of businesses surveyed are currently using cloud-based software while nearly a fifth are using video conferencing to communicate with their customers. However, over half of those surveyed do not prioritise bandwidth on the network to deal with the data requirements of cloud software or other business critical applications.

Masia added: “Critical business applications are increasingly being put in the cloud, but if they cannot be accessed quickly and without delays it will seriously affect the productivity of the business. Cloud-based software is meant to make the lives of business owners and workers easier by allowing them flexible access to their applications, but without the proper infrastructure to back it up they cannot deliver on these promises.”

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