The early adoption of new technologies "leads to better business outcomes", according to a study from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services.

The Digital Dividend - First Mover Advantage report says that companies that move the quickest on new technologies are more likely to lead in both revenue growth and market position than their peers.

The report found that 20 percent of these companies experienced more than 30 percent revenue growth. This was more than twice the growth experienced by companies identified by Harvard as technology "followers" (those that watch and invest once benefits are proven), and three times the growth experienced by "cautious" technology adopters (those that wait until a technology is well-established).

Sponsored by Verizon Enterprise Solutions, the study surveyed 670 business and technology leaders from around the world on the impact of what HBR Analytic Services calls the Big Five technologies - mobile, social, cloud computing, advanced analytics and machine to machine communications.

The aim of the study was to understand how these technologies are transforming organisations and helping them innovate to derive shareholder value.

"Organisations need to be constantly innovating in order to stay ahead of the curve, and this study shows that technology is a key enabler of business growth," said Tony Recine, chief marketing officer of Verizon Enterprise Solutions.

"The HBR-Analytic Services research demonstrates that the Big Five technologies are now viewed as powering growth, creating new business models and ultimately changing how companies can interact with their customers. Most importantly, the value of these new technologies lies not in what they can achieve on their own, but in their combined power as a holistic solution, said Recine."

The study defined three attitudes towards technology adoption - IT pioneers (34 percent of those surveyed), followers (35 percent) and cautious (30 percent).

It found that 57 percent of all respondents viewed IT as an investment that "drives innovation and growth". However, 54 percent of IT pioneers identified technology as "leading to a significant change to their business models", with 52 percent seeing it as leading to a "significant change" in the products and services they sell.

By contrast, only 29 percent of the companies in the "followers" category and 10 percent of those in the "cautious" category saw technology leading to changes in their business models.

But the survey found significant adoption of various forms of technology among all of the survey's respondents. For example, 73 percent use cloud computing, 61 percent have extensively adopted mobility, 83 percent use social media and collaboration tools for business and 20 percent use M2M extensively.

The survey also identified obstacles to adopting new technologies, with 34 percent of the respondents saying legacy technologies get in the way of innovation, and 44 percent saying they need more cultural flexibility to adapt and take advantage of new technologies to drive new ways of doing business.

The research shows that inter-departmental collaboration is "critical" and that segregating IT from business operations or operating in functional silos can be a "significant disadvantage" to a business.

Less than 10 percent of survey respondents worked in IT functions, "demonstrating that IT is now becoming firmly integrated in the overall business ecosystem", said Harvard.

"New technologies can provide a genuine competitive edge, but the organisation has to make the commitment to use technology to build new processes and business models," said Angelia Herrin, research and special projects editor at Harvard Business Review. "Companies need to become more flexible in terms of technology implementation and make innovation part of their culture in order to realise real business value."

A total of 672 respondents completed the survey the findings are based on. Only representatives of organsiations employing 1,000 plus staff in the US or 500 plus staff in the rest of the world took part in the study.