IT managers still have too little influence in shaping commercial strategy, according to the Institute of Directors (IoD), which has embarked on a crusade to help IT directors boost their impact on company boards.
"Too many businesses are by-passing IT all together," said George Cox, director-general of the institute. "In a number of organisations CEOs are setting up exciting Internet services. Ask them where this activity fits with IT and they say it doesn't - IT is not part of this. Business strategy has to be built around business opportunities and that is a real challenge for us."
Cox added, "It is a crusade to educate IoD members to what's really happening and to point out what's going to happen next and what the competition is doing.
"The challenge for IT directors is to ensure that organisations understand the big picture."
The alternative, he said, is for IT directors to end up like bus drivers and mechanics who are not involved in the route map or destinations.
The biggest constraint on business is budgeting, which makes it difficult to move fast in the e-business age, he said. "Budgeting restricts behaviour throughout the year. It is essential for survival for big corporations to be agile."
They can't live like oil tankers any more."
"Some things, such as branding, reputation, management ability and flexibility, should be permanent," he added, "but many things have to be transient, such as products, organisation structure and processes."
This was first published in June 2000