London: Almost three quarters of business leaders see the London Olympics having a positive impact on the UK economy, according to the UK's Management Consultancies Association (MCA).
But British business has a limited window to make the most of international opportunities arising from London 2012, warns Deloitte, the official professional services provider to London 2012.
Britain's senior management consultants, polled by the MCA for its latest report, The Business of Sport, say regeneration in the east of London and a growing reputation for the UK as a centre of excellence for anyone hosting a large and complex sporting event will be the two most significant legacies of the London Olympics.
Deloitte's analysis supports both those conclusions but adds that the focus will quickly shift towards emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia and the Middle East as hosts of forthcoming Olympic Games and World Cups, so British business and Government must act quickly to capitalise.
Deloitte, which won the MCA 2012 Award for Best Consultant/Client Team for its London 2012 work, argues that the skill and efficiency with which the Olympic programme has been delivered has provided a massive reputational boost to British business, whilst publicity surrounding the Games is having a marked impact on overseas' consumer attitudes to the UK, especially in coveted markets like India and China.
David Sproul, Chief Executive of Deloitte, said, "London 2012 is the biggest single showcase for British business in decades. A successful event will be noticed by consumers, businesses and governments around the world, giving British companies the opportunity to capitalise on this moment in the spotlight.
"Yet, these opportunities will not arrive automatically. An export boost will require targeted investment and promotion from Government. In conjunction with individual businesses and trade bodies, the Government must provide leadership and investment to promote the UK's competitive advantage.
"This demands wider thinking — we are not only promoting our success in staging a major event, this is about Britain's world class skills in technology, security, operational planning, complex programmes, digital communications and many other sectors relevant to a huge swathe of business and governmental challenges the world over."
The review Deloitte identifies that legacy is already being delivered, most visibly through the regeneration of the East End of London. This regeneration will continue for years after the Games and Deloitte estimates that there are between £2.5bn and £3bn of construction and related services contracts still to be awarded in the Olympic Park and neighbouring development areas.
However, whilst the achievements to date are bold and arguably broader than other UK regeneration programmes of the last 30 years, they are largely physical and environmental in nature. The focus now needs to be on delivering the wider social, economic and enterprise-led benefits which are often the hardest things to get right.
Heather Hancock, lead London 2012 partner at Deloitte, said, "The Games have accelerated the regeneration of the Lower Lea Valley by at least a generation, but this will not end with the Closing Ceremony. London 2012 is a six-week sporting event in the middle of a decades-long transformation of a critically important extension to London's economy. Getting this right will require greater focus on skills, education and other softer elements of regeneration."
The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) is in place to promote and deliver a Park legacy, integrating economic activity alongside health, education and access to sport and leisure facilities. However, critical to its success will be the early levels of visitor numbers and the uptake of residential and business opportunities. If a negative perception of the Park develops, it could take years to recover.
Deloitte argues that one of the critical success factors will be to maintain 'Olympic' delivery and governance structures. The integration of community, local, city-wide and national delivery structures has been a pioneering success for the UK. The current programme of integrated Games and legacy planning has been through three Prime Ministers and Whitehall administrations, three Mayoral terms and many more local government changes.
Hancock added, "The regeneration programme has shown what can be achieved with commitment from all parties. It would be too easy for the big political hitters to turn their attention away from the Games legacy once the Paralympic flag is lowered.
"This would be a big mistake. Without sustained senior commitment to — and accountability for — delivering every pound of legacy value from the £9.3bn of investment into the Games, there is a risk that local cross-party and cross-Borough collaboration will stumble. The LLDC is one positive step but more action will be needed to hold the focus on long term gains rather than short term trade-offs."
The MCA found that consultants are much less optimistic about other potential benefits of the games. Only around one in five believe that the Olympics will lead to improved infrastructure for businesses in London, an increase in take up of sport by young people or the long-term availability of world-class sporting facilities in the UK.
The MCA's The Business of Sport also says that almost three in four (70 percent) senior consultants agree that hosting international sporting events has a positive impact on the economy. Over two thirds of Britain's leading management consultants agree that sports sponsorship is an effective way of raising the profile of a business.
Alan Leaman, Chief Executive of the MCA said, "Management consultancies have been at the heart of preparing the Olympics and the UK now has an outstanding platform from which to export our skills and experience around the world.
"The UK can now be world leaders in managing large events, facilitating the best use of technology, implementing major construction and infrastructure projects and coping with the people pressures that go with creating and leading the great teams you need to put on these events."
The Business of Sport is available here.