Managing change is IT directors' toughest job

Exclusive: The key management challenges facing IT directors have changed significantly over the past year, reflecting their...

Exclusive: The key management challenges facing IT directors have changed significantly over the past year, reflecting their focus on deriving more value from IT.

No single issue dominates IT management, unlike the situation with technical challenges, where security once again topped their list of concerns by a wide margin.

These trends emerge from the survey of more than 300 IT directors and senior managers at this year's Richmond Events' IT Directors' Forum, held on board the cruise ship Aurora in May. IT directors' primary concern with how to get more for less is evident in their list of pressing management challenges: change management; budget management; motivating staff.

Last year, by contrast, their concerns were primarily about recruitment, which was a clear 15 percentage points ahead of the next in the list - communicating with the business - with cost reduction running third.

The intensity of some of last year's top worries has diminished with less emphasis on cost and resources, and more on managing and maximising the value of IT to the business. IT directors spend more time worrying about their relations with the board in practical terms - the impression they make on the board and how to change its view of IT.

Outsourcing and integration have both moved up a notch, but e-business, which was the top management issue two years ago, and the IT implications of mergers and acquisitions, both drop out of the top 10 altogether.

While security occupies enough management time to justify a position just in the top 10 management issues, it is uppermost when IT directors turn their minds to technical matters.

Integration and Microsoft desktop issues are again in the top three technical challenges, and mobile technology remains squarely in the frame. The main newcomer is wireless integration.

Another contender is open source software, which has leapt from nowhere straight into fourth place this year, no doubt a reaction to Microsoft's switch to subscription licensing.

2001 results
Top management issues
  • Staff recruitment and retention
  • Involvement in business strategy
  • Internal marketing of IT services
  • Cost reduction
  • Outsourcing
  • Strategy development
  • Integration of systems
  • Lack of resources
  • Delivery
  • Cultural change
Top technical Issues
  • Security
  • System integration
  • Windows 2000
  • Mobile IT
  • Network management
  • Bandwidth
  • Web enablement
  • Remote connectivity
  • Legacy systems

  • E-business

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