Many businesses measure IT role in cost terms – CA


7 Jul 2006

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A survey of European IT decision makers has found that technology’s contribution to the business is still measured in terms of budget and cost in more than half of cases – continuing a long-running debate about IT’s role in adding business value to an organisation.

The survey, conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of CA, polled 300 European IT decision-makers from organisations of more than 1,000 employees about issues relating to IT service management. It found that 52pc the contribution of IT is still measured in terms of budget and cost.

Managing cost was cited by 58pc of respondents as the best way IT could improve the service it delivers. Some 35pc said the best way for IT to improve services was to be better aligned with the business. Only 25pc of respondents stated that their IT functions were measured on business metrics.

Ironically, the survey uncovered some positive trends around the inclusion of IT personnel in discussions about business strategy. Some 88pc of IT departments surveyed believe they contribute towards their organisation’s bottom line and more than 50pc reported making joint decisions with the business on priority projects.

Gregor Petri, director of product marketing EMEA, CA Business Service Optimisation Business Unit, pointed out that financial value management is an important aspect of responsible IT governance. “But being measured primarily against budget reinforces the outdated view that IT only represents a cost, rather than a contributor to the business. An IT project could successfully meet budget and timeline requirements, yet prove to be an absolute failure in terms of business benefit.”

CA interpreted the survey findings as suggesting that the opportunity to redefine and improve the service and value IT provides to the business is in the hands of IT executives. “It is up to CIOs and IT leaders to demonstrate to the business how they can be better measured,” Petri said. “You can’t expect the business to know what improved options are available and as a consequence it always comes back to cost.”

The research also revealed the perceived barriers to transforming the improvement of IT service management, according to IT leaders. Almost half (48pc) of respondents stated that ‘changing business demands’ made it difficult to map IT services, while the same amount blamed lack of resources and 46pc cited IT complexity.

“Complexity means that resources are being sucked up and IT isn’t flexible enough to adapt to the changing business demands,” Petri commented. “But as CIOs and IT managers tackle that complexity, the IT infrastructure needs to be mapped to the business processes and tightly aligned with the key business priorities if it is to be viewed as delivering true value.”

By Gordon Smith