ICT investment still a priority for businesses in Western Canada



    Economic fears aside, a new survey indicates Information Communications
    Technology spending will remain strong among small and medium businesses
    in British Columbia and Alberta

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Feb. 3 /CNW Telbec/ - According to a new
study commissioned by Bell and conducted by Environics Research Group, almost
half of small and medium businesses (SMBs) in British Columbia and Alberta
expect to increase Information Communications Technology (ICT) spending in
2009.
    Speaking exclusively with Western Canadian ICT decision-makers, the study
found that 47% of the respondents expect to increase their ICT budgets in the
coming fiscal year, with 13% planning to increase their commitment to ICT by
more than 10%. The survey referred to ICT as the convergence of information
technology (IT), telecommunications and data networking technologies.
    "As an industry leader in ICT, Bell is working closely with SMB
decision-makers to help ease some of the impacts of the current economic
downturn," said Allan MacDonald, Vice President, Western Business Operations,
Bell. "A strategic investment in ICT can be a driver for business growth, and
we want to ensure our customers are equipped with the ICT solutions that will
best support their business operations through these turbulent times."
    Tabulated in December 2008, the Bell-commissioned study was conducted
among a group of ICT decision-makers in British Columbia and Alberta, with 41%
of those surveyed holding positions of General Manager, President/CEO, or
Owner/Partner. The survey focused on SMBs, defined as those organizations that
employ 25 to 500 people.
    "The Environics research team engaged key SMB decision-makers to gain a
better understanding of the specific issues facing their organizations in the
current economic climate," said David MacDonald, Group Vice President,
Environics Research Group. "These individuals are highly influential in their
respective ICT roles, and in a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty this
survey is a first to focus on projected technology spending for SMBs in B.C.
and Alberta."
    According to the survey, the top three ICT priorities for 2009 include
upgrading systems with newer technology (23%), containing costs (19%), and
ensuring the reliability of ICT systems (12%). Respondents were also asked to
identify their greatest ICT challenges. Topping the list was a desire for
efficient integration of technology products. The next three challenges were
listed as support in training staff, integrated solutions that are compatible
with other software, and improved voice and data services.
    "ICT solutions enable businesses to run more efficiently, which explains
why investing in technology remains a priority for SMBs in B.C. and Alberta,"
added Allan MacDonald. "Bell understands that a company's competitiveness, and
often its very survival, depends on their ability to manage the integrity and
flow of information. Bell can assist SMBs in simplifying their ICT operations
through a range of solutions that reduce the need for capital expenditures,
manage risk and streamline business operations."
    As a leading ICT provider, Bell provides SMBs an array of cost-effective
ICT solutions including integrated IT security, hosted applications, data
networking, remote backup, risk management, professional services and
infrastructure, and telecommunications. For complete information about all of
Bell's ICT services, visit Bell.ca/west.

    Survey Methodology

    The Environics opinion survey was conducted among business decision
makers responsible for ICT in their organization. A total of 175 telephone
interviews were completed between October 23 and November 12, 2008, among a
sample drawn from British Columbia and Alberta. A sample of this size has a
margin of error of +/- 7.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

    About Bell

    Bell is Canada's largest communications company, providing consumers with
solutions to all their communications needs, including telephone services,
wireless communications, high-speed Internet, digital television and voice
over IP. Bell also offers integrated information and communications technology
(ICT) services to businesses and governments, and is the Virtual Chief
Information Officer (VCIO) to small and medium businesses (SMBs). Bell is
proud to be a Premier National Partner and the exclusive Telecommunications
Partner to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Bell is
wholly owned by BCE Inc. For information on Bell's products and services,
please visit www.bell.ca. For corporate information on BCE, please visit
www.bce.ca.




For further information:

For further information: Allison Johnson, Bell, Media Relations, (604)
678-7514, allison.johnson@bell.ca


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