Compliance affecting efficiency in IT — survey

12 Oct 2006

Most Irish IT departments now face regulatory compliance issues but this is clashing directly with the need for more efficiency, leading to increased technical challenges, resourcing problems and cost concerns, new research claims.

A survey carried out by Unitech Systems, which polled 300 information managers from the top 1,000 companies in Ireland, found that 88pc of Irish organisations are affected by regulatory compliance. The three most common regulations to affect Irish businesses are the Data Protection Act (34pc), the Freedom of Information Act (22pc) and Sarbanes-Oxley (22pc). Basel II and FDA regulations figured much lower down the list, at 7pc and 2pc respectively. Just over a quarter of respondents (26pc) said their company must comply with US legislation.

To support compliance, 51pc of Irish companies have bought some form of storage and data management system, either software or hardware. One in 10 are implementing solutions such as hierarchical storage management (HSM) and information lifecycle management (ILM) to help address compliance demands.

Adrian Kelly, marketing manager of Unitech Systems, said the findings show that storage and data management is a critical consideration when addressing compliance. “The solution is no longer to throw more money or storage capacity at the problem but to adopt a more intelligent approach to the storage architecture,” he said. “Increasingly, companies recognise they must invest in solutions that are not just short-term fixes but long-term strategies to marry compliance requirements and IT efficiency.”

Irish IT departments’ concerns centre around several areas, the survey revealed. The technical burden is seen as the biggest challenge, cited by 38pc of the total. One respondent quoted in the report put it thus: “The challenge is finding the right IT solution, not the first one, but the best one.”

In joint second place were the issues of resource and cost, as well as the need for closer alignment with wider business concerns — each cited by 25pc of those polled. Some 12pc of IT managers said the biggest problem was managing contradictions between the goals of compliance and those of day-to-day IT.

One third of respondents feel they are put under unreasonable pressure by the business to support compliance. Interestingly, almost two thirds of compliance challenges for the IT department (63pc) are technical rather than involving the wider organisation. Sarbanes-Oxley was cited as being a particular burden, with compliance taking between 10 and 15pc of IT time.

The survey also considered the impact of compliance on the IT vendor community. The research found that many organisations feel supported by their technology suppliers when it comes to making compliance-related purchasing decisions — 67pc versus 33pc that did not agree.

Some 40pc of respondents said they felt that suppliers were more focused on the business opportunity linked to compliance than on compliance in itself. Just over one in four (27pc) said they had never been contacted about it directly by suppliers and felt that many were not aware of compliance challenges.

By Gordon Smith