The majority (60 percent) of UK small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are focused on improving existing IT systems and processes in order to find efficiencies, instead of buying new systems.

As a result, says a survey, they have forsaken new technologies built around cloud delivery, for instance.

The focus on improving existing systems has been the formula for reducing the impact of the downturn, say the majority of 100 firms who took part in a survey of companies in eastern England with a turnover of over £500,000.

The survey, conducted by IT integrator Cambridge Online Systems, found that integrating more back office applications with familiar desktop applications like Microsoft Office was the top area of IT focus this year.

The aims of integrating customer relationship management (CRM) with other departmental systems such as accounts, and delivering more information to field engineers on the move through the deployment of mobile devices like tablets, were well behind back office/desktop integration.

And cloud computing was considered to be the IT development least likely among the sample.

Nearly two-thirds of businesses (64 percent) are focusing on trying to deliver higher quality information to senior management to support better business decision-making.

Nearly a quarter of the sample (22 percent) have already executed ERP projects to integrate separate departmental systems, and 6 percent are planning to do so in the next year.

Over a third (35 percent) are increasing IT spend this year when compared to last year, with half saying IT spend will stay the same. The rest (15 percent) will see reductions this year.

Ray Olds, chief executive officer of Cambridge Online Systems, said: "Specific focus has fallen on integrating front and back office systems and bringing departmental systems together.

"These moves, together with implementation of CRM systems and garnering better and more timely business intelligence, have enabled businesses to trade successfully through the last two years."