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Canadian business leaders may be sympathetic about the challenges IT departments have managing legacy software and systems, but they’re not sure whether technology professionals can bring much value to strategic planning, according to a recent research study.

Conducted by Vision Critical and sponsored by Rogers, the Canadian Business Leaders Study draws data from more than 500 people polled last month, with a combination from both the technology side and various lines of business.

There’s lots of good stuff in here, but I’d draw particular attention to slide 10, which looks at the estimated hours spent trying to keep the lights on with old, outdated networks and related equipment. While it’s not surprising that a company like Rogers would want to show the problem of not modernizing your environment, it was interesting to see that business leaders believe it wastes even more time than the IT department does: 200 hours a week, and more than double that those working in the largest firms. This could explain an even more troubling finding that comes a bit later on.

Skip on over to slide 13 and you’ll see that, even though business leaders sound as eager as IT execs to be more focused on innovation, there’s still a disconnect.

“When it comes to their IT team’s performance . . . there is less agreement between IT Leaders and Business Leaders – especially when it comes to strategic planning, and driving value for the business,” the report says. “While IT Leaders perceive stronger performance on the strategic direction of the IT team (50%+ rated it high) , only 1 in 3 Business Leaders give it the same performance rating.”

In fact, if you look at some of the bars on this chart, there’s a nearly 20 percent difference between perceptions of IT and the business.

I suspect that in many cases IT departments, including the CIO, have been absorbing all the advice they’ve been getting from analysts and other experts about being more in tune with what businesses need. They feel they’re talking the talk, but until they can overcome perceptions they’re tied up wrestling wonky servers and ancient applications, business leaders don’t think they can walk the walk.

Of course, upgrading everything overnight is not feasible, and may not even be the answer, any more than farming off everything to the cloud. What may be best is to start with the legacy IT that most closely ties into a key business process. Create efficiencies there and use improvements as a case study in how further investments and support for the IT department can lead to more value for the company as a whole. In the meantime, study the rest of this results, and perhaps share them with your own business leaders to see if the findings hold true.



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