Confidence declining in execs

Confidence is declining in senior management’s abilities surrounding IT-related change. This is one of the findings that has come out of the third annual Canadian IT Issues Survey, conducted by Athabasca University and CIO Canada.

The survey gathered responses from 2,652 managers and professionals in Canadian businesses, gaining insight on the perceptions of information technology application within the country’s organizations.

Peter Carr, the executive director of Athabasca University’s Centre for Innovative Management, presented the findings in Toronto recently, to an audience composed mainly of CIOs.

According to Carr, the most surprising finding of the survey was the increased perception – since the first survey was first conducted in 2000 – that when it comes to IT-related change, senior managers are seen to be questionably competent.

“Over time you’d expect an improvement, but according to the survey, people believe that there’s been a deterioration of management. What it says is that the expectations around IT are changing,” Carr said.

Regionally, the Atlantic provinces were more apt to view senior management in a negative light, while Toronto, British Columbia and Quebec were the regions that perceived senior management least negatively. However, there was a decline in confidence in senior management competency in every region.

Part of the reason for this negative perception of senior management could have something to do with the results found around IT training and skills development. Most respondents felt that their organizations required more technical training, but that they had not allocated sufficient time or money for the purpose. On this end, Western Canadians were most positive, whereas Atlantic Canada and Ontario, outside of Toronto, appeared least positive. Toronto and Ontario were reported as separate regions in the survey.

Ric Irving, associate professor of management science and MIS at York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto, said that it is important that senior managers take more notice of what’s going on in IT departments.

“I tell my students that you can’t afford to leave IT to the geeks. It’s too damn important. Make more decisions,” he said. Irving was a part of the survey team.