European CIOs trump their US brethren

29 Jan 2008

European IT departments are significantly ahead of their US counterparts when it comes to providing IT services that directly benefit the business, new research indicates.

A study of 300 CIOs in Europe, the US and Asia found that Europe outscores the US in virtually every measurement of IT effectiveness.

Europeans outscore US CIOs when it comes to improving IT processes (51pc Europe; 33pc US), improving services to end users (55pc Europe; 44pc US), developing a proactive IT organisation (42pc Europe; 27pc US) and making IT transparent and accountable to the business (49pc Europe; 31pc US).

“These findings certainly back up my own experience when working with customers across the UK, Ireland and the US,” said Colin Bannister, head of technical services for CA in Ireland and the UK.

“When you consider that the survey shows only a third (31pc) of US IT departments are effectively managing the complexity of their IT environments compared to over half in Europe (53pc), it certainly makes it easier for European CIOs to take the next step to align IT with business goals.”

Bannister continued: “IT and business alignment is a key priority, no surprises there, but what is interesting is how European businesses are trying to achieve alignment.

“In Ireland and the UK we’re seeing much greater assessment of IT change on business output, using process fundamentals. For instance, businesses are starting to relate a server failure not just to an availability metric but to whether a customer gets their order delivered.

“The important thing for the IT industry is to remember that these discussions are at a process level, not a product level,” Bannister explained.

Of those companies that have been successful in achieving IT and business alignment, standardising on policies and procedures is the highest contributing factor in Europe (67pc).

This is followed by adopting a best practice framework like IT Infrastructure Library (53pc) and lastly, using one vendor for integrated solutions (30pc).

There are some significant discrepancies in what respondents felt were the main obstacles to align IT based on business priorities. A skills shortage was cited as the main barrier by 63pc of US respondents but only 40pc in Europe.

A lack of funding and the level of difficulty involved were the most common barriers in Europe, with 42pc of organisations citing each.

However it seems the Europeans are significantly ahead of the US when it comes to defining business goals; 41pc of US respondents felt this was a key barrier as opposed to just 20pc in Europe.

“As IT becomes an increasingly predominant factor in the top and bottom-line performance of the business, CIOs will have to focus more and more on the investment of their finite resources.

“This focus will continue to drive the adoption of best practices for IT resource allocation, as well as the integrated business service management technologies that support those best practices,” said Bannister.

By John Kennedy