Execs See Technology As Important - But Not IT - Page 2

Dec 15, 2008

Laurie Orlov

Competitiveness - For those that think the role of IT has become more strategic to enterprise competitiveness, think again. Seventy-two percent (72%) of responders see technology as central to this goal, but only 61% see IT as effective. But product development, marketing, and supply chain executives are least satisfied in comparison to technology’s relative importance to their roles.


In my view, this perception gap falls squarely into the lap of the CEO and C-level executive team who take IT infrastructure and support for granted, don’t associate it with competitiveness, or announce new and urgent priorities so often as to create IT whiplash. The solution, however, is not simple. CIOs need to be proactive and make a credible case that relates IT to competitiveness, no matter what industry. Remember, competitiveness could be in the context of making the transactional trains run on time.


Business drivers - When asked to assess the importance of business drivers and compare how well IT is at supporting them, the gap widens. In fact, the only category where IT support quality approached the importance of the business driver was in improving end-user workforce productivity—78% viewed this as a somewhat or critically important business driver, but only 60% viewed IT as supporting this need very well or excellently.


Today’s deteriorated cost climate is a context for reviewing (with peers and boss) what is and what will be the drivers for the organization moving forward. Is this the time to consolidate and share services that were previously owned by autonomous units? How is productivity measured and has the firm been moving forward or backward on that measure?




Okay, with all this said and done there are two things to remember about surveys: the first is that given half a chance to criticize something other than themselves, execs will do so. The second is that surveys are exactly that; not qualitative, not insightful, subject to inaccurate interpretation of the question, and especially not reflective of today.


In the world of IT, surveys are particularly problematic in the context of what is IT—the group, the technology, the industry? Who knows what responders thought when they saw the question? Finally, let’s remember that this is a survey at a point in time. Your mileage may vary and these may not be issues in your firm. But either way it's probably time for you to measure perception and establish mitigating tactics to close your own gaps.


Now an independent consultant, Laurie M. Orlov is a long time practitioner and industry observer. She has over 33 years of IT experience, the last 9 years as a VP and principal analyst, research director and consultant at Forrester Research. Prior to joining Forrester, Laurie held senior IT management positions in various high-tech companies, most recently as a CIO, driving the implementation of eCommerce-based ERP solutions for a mid-market PC reseller.


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