by CIO Staff

IT Budgets Primed for Growth: What Will You Do With It?

Oct 13, 20063 mins

By Chuck Martin

The familiar mantra of doing more with less may not be enough for businesses moving forward.

Following the downsizing and belt-tightening of the past, many in work adapted to working more, simply out of necessity.

The 50-plus-hour workweek became the norm for executives and managers, and personal time during the workday dwindled.

Companies of all sizes focused on becoming more efficient at all levels.

While efficiency is still important, there is now more attention on a positive view of the future and on business growth.

In a worldwide survey of senior executives and managers conducted by NFI Research, business growth ranked as the number-one issue facing the majority of businesses. This was followed by business efficiency, customer issues and industry conditions.

The outlook on the strength of the economy over the next 12 months is upbeat, with 73 percent of executives and managers saying the economy would gain at least some amount of strength.

With business growth moving to the forefront, people issues can become even more critical as companies seek more people to handle that growth.

“Focused, motivated and engaged employees are the key to sustainable growth,” said one survey respondent.

“Skilled and unskilled labor shortages are and will have major ripple effects on costs and productivity (including customer service) within our markets,” said another.

Business leaders should take steps now to increase employee retention, since competitors may soon be raiding their ranks.

“With aging demographics and a strong job market in the West, it is challenging to find qualified applicants and to retain good employees,” said one survey respondent.

Said another: “Competition from domestic and international entities and even from some partners is hands down the biggest issue our organization faces. The economic situation is making competition in general fiercer than ever before–and oh, by the way, it keeps us on our toes and awake at night trying to stay one step ahead.”

Some businesses will face challenges in ramping up for the anticipated business growth.

“In the financial adviser industries, we are only held back by recruitment,” said one respondent. “Business growth is proportional to how many advisers we can put into the field. The quality of most people’s personal financial planning can be pitiful.”

No matter the industry, growing the business will, in many cases, require increasing headcount since many managers and workers are already stretched to their limits.

The good news is that the mood of the future is upbeat among executives and managers, with three-quarters of them saying they are optimistic about the increase or growth of business over the next year.

Issues that matter to the smallest number of business managers are global conflict, lack of investment, outsourcing and international challenges.

With this business growth and optimism, perhaps a new corporate slogan is in order. Since everyone is already focused on doing more with less, maybe it’s time to move to the concept of “doing more with more.”

Chuck Martin is a best-selling business book author, his latest being , Tough Management (McGraw-Hill, 2005), the business fable “Coffee at Luna’s” and the soon-to-be published “Smarts.” He lectures around the world and can be reached at