Majority of businesses have poor IT strategy

22 Jan 2004

Three out of four Irish businesses have poor or very poor IT strategies and vendor selection skills, a new survey of small business by Enterprise Ireland (EI) has found.

The poll of 96 companies in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sector also found that 38pc could benefit from moderate or significant IT investment and 47pc were putting themselves “at serious risk” due to weaknesses in IT. The preliminary results of the research were announced this morning at the ‘Driving the Digital Society’ breakfast briefing at Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.

Speaking at the event Lorcan O’Sullivan, head of EI’s e-business unit, said that poor planning and IT strategy development were endemic among early stage Irish businesses. “A lack of a clear IT and business strategy is a major issue for many of the companies EI has worked with,” he said.

The priority for companies planning to embark on e-business projects is to align their e-business strategy with their overall business strategy, he said. It was also important to consult widely before beginning the project and not to underestimate the resources needed to make it happen.

O’Sullivan added that while businesses recognise the need for technology, they are inhibited by a range of factors such as the difficulty in retaining IT staff, the cost of consultants and the pace of technological change which makes it difficult to keep up with the latest developments.

Over the last few years, EI has run a successful funding programme under which €7m has been in given in grants to 82 companies for the implementation of e-business projects. The organisation is currently running e-business and IT Advice Initiative (eBIT), which subsidises IT consultants to visit early stage companies and assess their IT needs.

Also speaking at the event was David Laird, managing director of IT reseller and services firm Datapac, who argued that the time had come for IT to be managed in a strategic way like other functional areas like finance, production or marketing. “Too many IT projects get bogged down in bureaucracy. IT systems are every bit as important as new production facilities, a new fleet of trucks or a Rolls Royce for the MD. But because these systems are intangible, their value is not always recognised,” he said.

By Brian Skelly