IT’s progess toward board level stalls in Ireland – survey

3 Jun 2011

IT’s drive for recognition in Irish boardrooms has stuck in neutral, with just one-third of organisations giving a place on the board to the technology function – showing no change in the past two years.

The latest survey from Clarion Consulting on the evolving role of the IT function is the third since 2007 and polled respondents from the public and private sectors across a range of vertical industry sectors.

Among the survey’s other findings were that more than two-fifths of respondents (44pc) believe IT’s role is perceived only as a utility, there to support the business function. This year, just 57pc cited IT as strategically valuable, down from 72pc recorded in 2009.

“It’s disappointing to see that IT boardroom membership has not increased since 2009,” said Clarion’s managing director Pat Millar. “We had seen some strong acceleration through 2007 and 2009 but this, coupled with a significant drop in the number of respondents citing IT as strategically valuable to the organisation, is a negative development for the industry as a whole.”

In a reflection of the times, more than half of the organisations polled have cut their IT spending in the past year. One-quarter predict modest declines in IT budgets of up to 10pc in 2011. A similar number said technology investment would increase slightly, while one in 10 organisations are forecasting more aggressive budget increases of between 11 and 20pc. Despite budget constraints, almost three-quarters of organisations plan to add new IT services to their portfolios.

‘A failure’

Just 5pc of organisations say IT spending is measured to determine return on investment and fewer still, 3pc, measure whether technology innovates in the business. Millar said this finding showed “clearly a failure” by most organisations in gauging whether IT projects delivered on their objectives. “One has to wonder if future IT investment could be threatened by this lack of focus on what are basic operational metrics,” he said.

The survey uncovered progress in the area of IT governance and compliance, with 45pc of organisations subjecting their IT strategy to independent review, up from 20pc in the 2009 survey. Exactly half of the organisations polled said their IT was either “very tightly aligned” or “tightly aligned” with the business strategy, which represents an increase from 42pc in the previous survey.

More organisations now offer internal service level agreements to staff than two years ago – now 79pc, up from 68pc in 2009. There has also been a notable increase in the number of organisations using formal performance metrics to help manage the IT function, up to 53pc from 36pc in 2009.

“At a time when many organisations are trying to re-assess and re-invent how they do business, they fail to understand that IT can serve as a dynamic driver of innovation and creativity. We encourage IT professionals to be far more aggressive in communicating the message of IT as business enabler and one which deserves its place at the top table,” he adds.

Clarion Consulting held a webinar for end users to discuss the results and their implications for Irish organisations. To access the session and a copy of the full report, The Evolving Role of the IT Function, email Clarion Consulting.

Photo: Pat Millar, Clarion’s managing director

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic