Staff retention, maintaining networks and corporate security will still be major challenges for companies in 2010, according to new global research

Nearly half of the 4,018 senior executives surveyed believed identifying and retaining skilled staff will be the paramount challenge for human resource management in 2010, and a quarter say their scarcity will have a heavy impact on business models. The brain drain has an added dimension: 44% of executives rate the loss of key personnel to competitors as likely to be the biggest threat to their intellectual property in five years' time.

Over a third of respondents considered that interaction with customers is the part of their business that will have changed most by 2010. Firms will seek to gain greater knowledge of customer behaviour in order to better anticipate changes in demand. They will also seek to involve customers more closely in many parts of the business, with implications for corporate networks and security. It is in improving customer relationships that the role of IT will be most critical, according to 62% of the executives surveyed.

The report, Business 2010, written by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by SAP, concluded that how companies do business will be more important in 2010 than what they do. Flexibility and speed will be the hallmarks of the successful organisation.

Business 2010 is available from: