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Dell/EIU Survey Finds Technology Boosts Business Performance In Emerging Countries But Barriers Remain


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* Cost of IT, Skill Shortages and Poor Infrastructure Are Primary Barriers to Effective Use of Technology
* Company Creates Dell YouthConnect Initiative Targeting Emerging Countries, Committing 1 Percent of Pre-Tax Profit by 2010

Managers in the world’s fastest-growing economies place a very high value on the role of information and communications technology (ICT) in business and its effect on operational efficiency. However, some perceive high technology costs along with skills shortages, poor telecommunication infrastructure and lack of central government ICT strategy as obstacles to their firms’ effective use of ICT.

Those are the main conclusions of research presented today by Dell and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) at the Economist Emerging Markets Summit 2008 in London. The research, commissioned by Dell and completed by the EIU in September, polled 537 senior-level executives and managers in the four BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries; the United Arab Emirates and five other Gulf nations; and Mexico, South Africa and Vietnam. It focused on four topics: the impact of ICT, barriers to ICT use, skills and training, and policy factors.

The research’s key findings include:

* Among firms who have been unable to obtain the technology they need, 41 percent of respondents say its high cost has been the primary obstacle;
* 45 percent cite insufficient national and local telecoms and Internet infrastructure as hindrances to better ICT use; and
* 36 percent state that a lack of adequate technology skills among employees prevents the effective use of ICT.

Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell, commented at the summit, “Businesses in emerging economies are challenged by the high cost of technology and a lack of infrastructure. We’re tackling these barriers through affordable, accessible products and services that make managing IT much simpler.”

Mr. Dell said another essential part of the technology solution is helping more people in more places, including emerging countries, acquire skills to make the most of what IT can enable.

“We are committed to doing our part in addressing the skills gap with Dell’s newly formed Dell Youth Connect, donating 1 percent of our pre-tax profits to IT skills training by 2010,” he said. “Digital literacy has become critical for success in today’s Connected Era -- we can’t leave any part of the globe behind.”

The Dell YouthConnect will work with non-profit organizations in communities in emerging countries where Dell has a presence. The initiative will direct philanthropic support to organizations that promote education and incorporate math, science, literacy and/or technology skills development for young people up to age 17.

Key Country Observations in the Research

“National variations that emerge in the survey suggest that Brazilian, Indian and Mexican managers provide a particularly positive assessment of the impact of ICT in their businesses and -- in the case of Indian executives -- their future ability to access key resources such as skilled staff,” says Carla Rapoport, managing editor, Technology, with the EIU.

Among other observations from Ms. Rapoport and the EIU research team are:

* Despite universal concern about skills shortages, 65 percent of emerging country managers expect to be able to hire the people they need with the right technology skills. The most optimistic response came from India, the least optimistic from South Africa.
* Four out of 10 people (39 percent) surveyed believe that, to supplement local recruitment of ICT staff, they’ll also hire people from abroad. Countries where most executives don’t share that belief include Russia, Brazil and India.
* While 89 percent of those surveyed believe that ICT has boosted their organisations’ performance, the figure rises to 93 percent in Mexico and 95 percent in India.
* More than six out of 10 people say they have put ICT to greatest use in improving operating efficiency. This rises to 88 percent in Qatar and 74 percent in Mexico, but drops to 25 percent in Kuwait.
* The question, “Are individuals in my country entrepreneurial in using IT?” received an average 61 percent “yes” responses. That figure climbs to 74 percent in India and Qatar but drops to 40 percent in South Africa.

The complete results are available at

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