Growth is back at the top of the agenda for technology companies, according to Deloitte's 2005 global chief executive survey of the fastest growing technology companies as ranked in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500.
Three out of four are very confident or extremely confident about continuing their company's current rate of growth.
Chris Robertson, partner in charge of technology, media and telecommunications at Deloitte in Birmingham, said: "Chief executives are more confident about their company's prospects than they have been in recent years, and are aggressively pursuing new growth opportunities.
"Sixty per cent of respondents are committed to the idea of growing organically, rather than through acquisition."
The main barrier to growth is finding, hiring and retaining enough qualified people to support technology companies' ambitious growth plans.
Some 94 per cent of respondents expect to increase their headcount this year, with more than four out of ten planning to grow by at least 25 per cent.
In all three regions, the emphasis on finding good people is significantly higher than in previous years.
"Juxtaposed to chief executive growth plans is the fact that we may be witnessing the early stages of a longanticipated global labour shortage, with fewer young people entering the workforce.
"This problem will be particularly acute in Western Europe. With qualified workers in increasingly short supply, talent management is likely to become a strategic imperative," Mr Robertson added.
Other key findings include: n Ninety four per cent of companies expect to increase their headcount this year. n A third of companies in the survey rated "developing and bringing new products to market" or "competitive products" as their biggest challenge to sustaining revenue growth. n Sixty per cent of respondents see their own region as the best source for growth. n Chief executives in every region see their top challenge as developing leaders and delegating responsibility - rating profitability second.
Mr Robertson said: "The majority of chief executives expressed very little concern about current economic conditions, a dramatic shift from a few years ago.
"This sentiment may be based on a belief that the technology sector is becoming relatively impervious to macroeconomic conditions, and that the latest technology advances will always have value because of their ability to generate new market opportunities and competitive advantage."
Although chief executive confidence is at an all-time high, there is significant concern over increased competition from emerging powers like India and China.
In Europe and North America, companies are most concerned about gaining access to capital to support their aggressive growth.
Focusing on product development and innovation is seen as a priority for chief executives, with a third of respondents rating "developing and bringing new products to market" or "competitive products" as their biggest challenge to sustaining revenue growth.
Most fast-growth companies are keeping their sights focused on their home region, with 60 per cent of chief executives focusing on their own region as the best source of growth.
Respondents were also asked which technologies have the greatest potential for growth over the short (next 12 months) and longer term (over the next three years). Internet and IP-based applications were seen to have the greatest potential for short- term growth, with wireless communications ranking second, except in Asia Pacific where it is in a virtual tie for first.