Part of owning a franchise opportunity requires the ability to work within a budget, identifying where spending needs to be reined in or boosted. While franchisors train unit owners and offer ongoing financial support, it's often up to the franchisee to stay on top of trends to determine the ultimate success of his or her operation.

With this in mind, PricewaterhouseCooper's Private Company Trendsetter Barometer reports that 29 percent of private businesses plan to increase investment in information technology during the next year. Furthermore, while companies only funneled 5.6 percent of their budgets to IT in 2010, this number is expected to jump to 6.6 percent over the next year, representing a 19 percent year-over-year increase.

Driving the jump in IT budget allocation is a desire to make business processes more efficient and effective (90 percent), better manage data (75 percent), attract new customers (58 percent), drive growth and competitiveness (55 percent) and better identify the needs of existing customers (55 percent).

"Key to achieving growth is having insight into customer needs, trends and opportunities," said Ken Esch, partner in PwC's private company services practice. "Private companies that can leverage IT to this end will be able to make better-informed decisions about new product and service offerings, helping them broaden their customer base."

However, the study also noted several barriers that business owners will run into when trying to maintain and innovate their IT systems. Thirty-four percent of business owners identified a lack of appropriate IT resources as their top implementation challenge, followed by dealing with a "cumbersome IT infrastructure," which garnered 28 percent of responses.

"Despite the near-term barriers to achieving business goals through IT, we're encouraging our clients to view their IT spend and return on investment over the long term," explained Esch. "Many IT areas, such as cloud computing ... actually require fewer internal resources than legacy IT infrastructure, while often delivering more."

Being able to connect with consumers on a personal level is proving increasingly crucial, especially as consumer confidence continues to fluctuate. According to the RBC U.S. Consumer Outlook, confidence dropped to 43.7 in July following a score of 46.7 in June.

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