IT still fighting to prove its worth: study

The battle to prove that IT is vital to business operations is still being fought within the enterprise, according to a recent survey by Fujitsu Consulting.

Although 41 per cent of executives surveyed agreed that IT is a necessary contributor to cost effectiveness, two out of three respondents said their business is constrained by IT’s inability to quickly adapt to its changing needs, according to Fujitsu’s 2002 Information Technology Services Management (ITSM).

And while 30 per cent of executives surveyed said they consider IT a strategic partner with the business side of operations, 19 per cent viewed IT as expensive overhead. Fifteen per cent said IT made no contribution at all.

Two issues made clear by the survey, according to Hal Dally, director of consulting and IT service management for Fujitsu in New York, are that IT departments feel they are treated like subordinates not equals, and that a lack of communication exists between them and their business counterparts.

Dally added that IT thinks they are not being brought into the loop until the decisions have been made.

From the business side, Dally said IT is guilty of not articulating what they need in terms of budget, functionality and timing.

Cameron Robitaille, a networking specialist at Toronto-based network outsourcing company Compel Technology Inc., agreed.

“Most of those executives I am sure don’t really understand the true function of those departments (IT) or how to leverage them properly, and that leads to a disparity between actual value versus perceived value in their eyes.”

But Robitaille added, “most of our customers can’t survive without their computers, which makes the value we provide pretty clear to the brass.”

Dally cited user satisfaction within the enterprise and the ability of IT to keep its backlog under three months as hallmarks of a company with good communication between IT and business.

Fujitsu surveyed 160 executives worldwide from August through October of 2002; 35 per cent were from Canada and the U.S.

Dally said the results of the survey applied across all geographic regions and all vertical industries surveyed.

“I would like to say [the result] really zeroed in on one area, but it doesn’t,” he said. “It’s really a cross-section and the statistics don’t fit the regions or the industries. You can find the highs and lows in each one.”

A recent study conducted by Athabasca University in Alberta garnered slightly different results. Peter Carr, executive director at the school’s Centre for Innovation Management, said that study of 2,652 Canadian businesses managers and professionals indicated that IT spending would increase, while Fujitsu’s survey indicated it would decrease.

“Organizations are primed to spend more this year on technology, and by and large we do think – this may contradict Fujitsu a little – [executives] think that IT does some good,” Carr said.

“Now whether it does as much good as they want it to – we do think there’s a gap there – we would say there is a gap in their expectations and what they actually get,” he said, echoing Robitaille’s comments.

The results of Athabasca’s survey also showed IT had little confidence in senior management’s ability to make good decisions about IT.

“The basic position is that they need to take an awful lot more of effort in managing IT effectively,” Carr said “The Fujitsu study is saying that IT is not contributing as well as it could. But to apply to IT effectively in organizations takes work and effort on their part, and they need to do more of it.”

For more information about Fujitsu’s study visit