Businesses urged to 'take IT on'

A MAJOR IT initiative aimed at boosting business in the region was launched yesterday by the East of England Development Agency

A MAJOR IT initiative aimed at boosting business in the East of England was launched today.

The East of England Development Agency will be investing £2.8million in the takeITon programme, offering a package of practical and financial IT support to firms in the region over a three year period.

A strong IT infrastructure is seen as critical to improving the productivity and efficiency of individual businesses and the prosperity of the region as a whole, but the East of England's IT performance is lagging behind that of other regions, EEDA says.

An awareness campaign is set to run alongside the support programme to encourage businesses to think again about the way they use IT and to become more competitive, visible and profitable as a result.

Five dedicated IT advisers will provide a boost to the support available to firms in the region through Business Link, and specialist diagnostic IT healthchecks will be available to businesses to identify their IT needs.

Business Link will provide regular advice clinics and seminars, and a dedicated website at www.takeiton.org.uk will give practical advice, hints and tips based on commissioned research.

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A financial support packaged will be formally launched in January, and a takeITon awareness-raising week kicks off on Monday .

Richard Ellis said firms would reap the rewards of a strong IT infrastructure.

“It is no secret that a strong IT infrastructure has the ability to drive business success, but when we compared this aspect of our performance as a region to others, we realised there was a need to boost the region's use of IT in business,” he said.

“If we can encourage businesses across the region to adopt improved IT practices, they will reap the rewards in productivity and efficiency which, in turn, will benefit the economic prosperity of the region as a whole.”

Pat Smith, chief executive of Business Link in the East of England, said it was a “great opportunity” for companies.

“At the core of this initiative is the investment of additional frontline expert IT advisers who will provide specialist support to businesses in the region,” he said.

“Every company that meets with an adviser will come away with an independent audit that will help them plan and develop their IT systems going forward. This is a great opportunity for businesses that don't have in-house IT expertise to call Business Link and arrange for an expert to conduct an independent IT review.”

Companies looking to take action to improve their IT can find further information on the campaign at www.takeiton.org.uk.