The vast majority of European companies believe the virtual enterprise is the way to increase profits and productivity for the future, according to new independent research commissioned by Nortel and the Communications Management Association(CMA).

The research report - Virtual Enterprise 2006 - focused on 200 UK-based organizations that conduct business across Europe. It is the first survey in the region to capture business perceptions of the virtual enterprise. The survey defined the virtual enterprise as a "human Internet" where customers, employees, partners and suppliers have access to information - and each other - from wherever they are and on whatever device.

The survey found that 83 percent of respondents believe adoption of  virtual enterprise solutions will increase to drive cost savings and improve efficiency. Most of the organizations surveyed (91 percent) already provide their employees with secure remote access to their internal network when needed. Flexible working capabilities and hot-desking facilities for teleworkers are being provided by the majority of respondents. The perceived benefits of making these provisions for employees were increased efficiency and productivity and a more flexible work environment for employees.

The survey found that organizations do perceive some barriers to the adoption of the virtual enterprise. Primary concerns are HR concerns relating to new management and organizational structures (68 percent), security issues (23 percent) and the cost of new technology (19 percent).

The research also revealed a disparity between the pace of virtualization of the workforce and that of partners and suppliers. The virtualization of suppliers and partners appears to be a slower process. More than half (58 percent) of the organisations surveyed have already integrated suppliers or partners with their IT system. The companies that have already adopted the virtual enterprise model with partners and/or suppliers stated that their organisation have become more efficient and responsive. Despite the barriers, less than one fifth of the respondents stated that they do not plan to integrate their IT system with suppliers and/or partners.

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