Nearly half of senior executives believe that their networks are inadequate for the business challenges they will face over the next couple of years.

That’s according to a survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit which found that 48 per cent of decision makers surveyed needed to make significant, or very significant, investments in their networks to cope with the demands that their businesses are going to face. Only six percent said their networks were fully equipped to handle the challenges that lie ahead.

The survey, which was commissioned by AT&T, asked 237 senior executives worldwide about their own networks and the preparedness for business change. According to the survey, the main challenges that the businesses face are: the need to enable easy sharing of information between outside partners and customers; the need to achieve efficiencies by integrating multiple systems; the need to handle greater volumes of data traffic, and the need to ensure greater reliability.

An AT&T spokesman said that the company hadn’t been surprised at the results of the survey. “There’s a growing realisation that networks are vital for businesses,” he said, adding that companies are preparing to invest more.

He said that the projected growth in spend would include bandwidth and equipment and would compensate for the slowdown in expenditure over the past couple of years. “We had the boom in spend two years ago and now that over-capacity has been used up,” he said.