Although culture is becoming less of an issue than previously, it is still an obstacle to the adoption of ICT in developing nations.
Almost one in two business leaders (46%) working across some of the fastest-growing economies in the world are united in their belief that cultural values, such as education, religion or local working practices, have little impact on the role of information and communications technology (ICT) or its effect on operational efficiency.
Where the biggest regional disconnect emerges, however, is in the Middle East where 63,5% of respondents in Bahrain and Qatar, believe local customs to be a key influence in levels of technology acceptance, compared to an average of 39% across the rest of the region.
This is according to the second wave of Dell, Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) research which examines the attitudes and barriers to ICT adoption in the emerging countries.
Conducted in late 2008, the 537 senior-level executives and managers were polled in Brazil, Russia, India, China (BRIC) The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and five other Gulf nations along with Mexico, South Africa and Vietnam.
Respondents were asked to rate how strongly they agree with the statement: 'Cultural values in parts of our society often discourage the wider use of ICT by employees'.
The results were consistent among most regions with the highest number of those disagreeing with the statement found in India (65%), South Africa (65%) and Brazil (56%) and many others remaining neutral in their opinion.
However, in certain countries such as Bahrain (75%) and Qatar (50%), respondents still believe that local culture has a strong influence on access and adoption of technology. This adds further substance to the vast diversity of the region and reveals a technology climate which is fast maturing.
"While the findings are encouraging in revealing that cultural barriers to the use and effectiveness of ICT are being broken down, market intelligence suggests that currently, most organisations in the BRIC and the emerging countries are only operating at a fifth of their potential productivity," says Michael Collins, vice-president of Dell's Emerging Country business in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
"This suggests there is still some way to go in terms of educating the region about the effectiveness of ICT solutions such as virtualisation and cloud computing in driving operational efficiencies."
In fact, when asked about the main reason why employees were struggling with certain areas of ICT, 36% of respondents said it was due to the employees' lack of adequate technology skills, and 32% said employees were receiving insufficient training on how to use the new technologies.
Carla Rapoport, managing editor of technology at the EIU, says: "In markets where cultural values have the highest impact, access to ICT education is clearly still an issue – something which the technology industry and local governments must work together in addressing.
"The results also outline the need for businesses to truly understand local landscapes and working practices when planning investment in certain regions – local partnerships will be a key factor in driving adoption rates in countries such as Bahrain and will ensure local businesses are able to fully reap the benefits of technology."