Saturday, October 20, 2012

How Is IT Perceived by Business?

The data shows a disturbing gap between IT perception of itself as reasonably innovative and effective, and non-IT’s the lukewarm view.

There’re discrepancies between how IT evaluates its own performance and how IT perceived by business. Here is a brief summary.
Statistically, less than 50% of non-IT people consider their IT teams integral to the business, the survey finds, and 54% consider IT a support or maintenance organization and not an innovator. But more than half of them say technology’s becoming more critical to the business.

1. Is IT a Drag or an Engine of Innovation?

The data shows a disparity between how IT views its performance (not bad) and how non-IT pros view it (not good). For example, asked if their companies’ business users are at least moderately happy with the quality, timeliness, and cost of IT projects, around two-thirds of IT people say yes, but just half of non-IT pros said so. Asked if IT is foremost a support or maintenance organization (as opposed to the innovation engine it might want to be), 39% of IT pros agreed, but 54% of non-IT pros agreed. Thus, the data shows a disturbing gap between IT’s perception of itself as reasonably innovative and effective, and non -IT’s the lukewarm view.

Here, IT is seen as a drag on innovation. The user perception of IT is very low and generally, this perception is ignored by senior IT management as not being of importance; one respondent said. Said another: “Unfortunately, IT in our business is seen as a roadblock—users want to use personal devices, social networks, cloud services, etc., and we often prevent that entirely or provide poor internal substitutes.”

2.  Do More with Less is not enough

One argument is that IT has done a too good job in its cost-cutting role. A recent Gartner study showed that its record of doing more with less (a response found frequently in IT study) makes IT a business segment leader in productivity. But while measuring IT largely on the “do more with less” criterion may warm the CFO’s heart, it can run counter to the concept of implementing new technology to drive innovation. CIOs have made IT more efficient, with the result of devaluing IT as the returns on efficiency.

Only about a fourth of IT and non-IT pros say their organization is an innovation leader. When three-quarters of employees consider their organization an also-ran in innovation, you have a problem. Only 32% of the IT respondents think that IT plays an extremely important role in business innovation; only 25% of non-IT respondents think so.

3. Who’s to Blame for Lack of Innovation

At too many companies, no one’s in charge of innovation, there are scant funds to pursue it, and training is mostly do-it-yourself. But at least one survey finding is encouraging: Most respondents think business and IT departments are equally at fault for their dearth of innovation.

Dedicated IT funding for innovative new projects is scarce—only 13% of IT and 14% of non-IT respondents said their companies have such a fund. Similarly, 16% of IT respondents and 13% of non-IT respondents said, such projects are a fairly easy sell despite no dedicated fund. The lion’s share of respondents said funding is project-dependent (37% of IT and 29% of non-IT). However, a notably large percentage of respondents (24% of IT, 17% of non-IT) takes the dim view that projects take so many executive approvals that “by that time, they’re no longer innovative,

The idea that the IT organization is overlooked as an innovation driver and is being bypassed by business units comes at an odd time when you consider the robust new technology prospects and pervasive information influence. IT is in demand. But IT pros must keep evolving and adapting. As other departments (most notably marketing) have embarked on technology strategies, the role of the CIO has also evolved into a collaborative and consulting role with those departments. “We are moving from classic design, develop and deploy to collaborate, integrate and secure,” more CIOs claim.


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