Productivity and ICT deployments are inexplicably linked, according to the survey of 300 executives of medium-to-large public and private sector firms conducted by Sweeney Research. Telstra said the survey, to be called the Productivity Indicator, would be conducted annually.
The most important ICT investment to drive productivity in the past year was providing better access to information and resources via networked computing.
Automating processes and forms online is anticipated to drive the most gains around productivity in the next year.
By itself, higher network speeds and broader coverage consistently ranks fifth or sixth among ICT investments being made to improve productivity.
However, these network capabilities underpin many higher ranking investment opportunities, particularly around enterprise-wide information and resource-sharing, according to Paul Geason, executive director of convergent sales at Telstra.
One technology that isn't likely to generate productivity gains is video conferencing - at least in the next year.
However, Geason is still upbeat about its potential to drive productivity gains for business.
"Videoconferencing is a critical part of what we do in Telstra, and I personally hold the view that it will play a key role in the next three years," Geason said.
"While high-definition video conferencing is still in the early stages of growth, as organisations add bandwidth and capacity we will see video become part of more critical applications that enterprises use."
The survey also found that while many businesses want to improve productivity, only half of them have systems in place to measure the improvements or set targets.
Additionally, less than one in three respondents said they could measure - with a high degree of accuracy - productivity gains when developing a business case.
Geason said that part of the problem is that there is rarely a single point of accountability for productivity measurement internally.
"Productivity is often seen as the responsibility of everyone to identify better work practices and assist with change," said Geason.
"In many organisations we see productivity targets are set but not necessarily owned. Then once the organisation moves beyond year one of the business case, they really struggle to measure against the original targets.
"The persistence and continual focus needed to realise the benefits on these business cases is considerable and that's where organisations struggle," Geason said.
"It's actually critical to ensure a single point of accountability exists [internally] and there is a management process in place to measure the targets."