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New Vodafone research conducted across more than 1,700 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in six European countries has discovered a marked increase in confidence about future growth coupled with a strong commitment to further investment in communications and information technology (ICT) to enhance productivity.

Believed to be one of the largest recent polls of its kind, SME business leaders in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic were asked for their views on current market conditions and future business prospects. Vodafone’s “The connected future for SMEs" report found that:

  • Around half of SMEs surveyed say their businesses are performing more strongly now than two years ago;
  • 80 per cent are now confident that their businesses will grow over the next two years;
  • The largest proportions of SMEs expressing confidence about the future were found in two of the countries most severely affected by the Eurozone crisis: 88 per cent of Irish SMEs and 83 per cent of Spanish SMEs now expect to increase turnover and profitability between now and the end of 2015.

The Vodafone connected future for SMEs research also analysed SMEs' use of, and attitudes towards investment in, a range of different ICT products and services. Researchers found that:

  • 82 per cent of European SMEs have seen direct business benefits from previous ICT investment, with 88 per cent citing improved customer service as a key outcome;
  • 68 per cent are planning on further ICT investment to enable a deeper and more responsive level of customer service and to support more flexible and productive working practices;
  • Tablets are set to become the predominant focus of ICT investment for European SMEs, with adoption predicted to increase from 54 per cent to 73 per cent of businesses over the next year;
  • a rapidly growing proportion of European SMEs plan to increase their use of cloud storage in future, with adoption of cloud services set to rise sharply from 44 per cent of SMEs across Europe to 60 per cent over the next twelve months;
  • other priority investment areas for SMEs are smartphones and 4G services.

Vodafone Group Enterprise Chief Executive, Nick Jeffery said: "Small and medium-sized businesses are the engine room of the European economy. To find such a widespread positive outlook is heartening, particularly in some of the hardest-hit Eurozone countries. It's also striking how businesses in towns and cities across Europe share a common view that further investment in technology will be critical to future prosperity."

The research was conducted on behalf of Vodafone Group by specialist B2B research firm Circle Research. A total of 1,736 SMEs were interviewed by telephone and online in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic. The report is available online at:

https://www.vodafone.com/content/dam/group/policy/downloads/A597-Vodafone-SME-digitisation-paper-final.pdf

For further information:

Vodafone Group
Media Relations
+44 (0) 1635 664444

Notes to editor: About Vodafone

Vodafone is one of the world's largest telecommunications companies with approximately 411 million customers in its controlled and jointly controlled markets as of 30 September 2013. Vodafone has equity interests in telecommunications operations in nearly 30 countries and around 50 partner networks worldwide. For more information, please visit: www.vodafone.com