At a user briefing in London, Gartner outlined how senior IT professionals should sell the need for strategic IT purchases to the board.
Gartner vice-president Alexander Drobik warned that as a result of the dotcom fallout "strategic IT investment is seen as dangerous. A strategic view of IT is not accepted by the board".
Drobik said one way to convince the board to fund the purchase of strategic IT equipment was to look at how IT can improve fundamental business processes. "Most companies do not have a view of their top 10 processes. Look at how you can improve these processes with IT," he said.
This will not be a simple task, Drobik warned. Directors generally expect payback for strategic IT within three years and most serious projects take five or more years before the business sees a return, he said.
Drobik gave the example of a chief information officer who had invested $24m (£15.4m) in customer relationship management. To get a three-year return on investment, the CRM system would need to deliver $72m (£46.3m) in additional revenue, he said.
Drobik also highlighted the drive for businesses to start operating as real-time enterprises, where business activity is monitored continuously
"Time is shrinking yet many companies do not use time efficiently," he said. Many businesses have information relating to time but do not use it, according to Drobik. He pointed out that the data centre contains logs listing the time various processes take. This information, he added, is usually only seen by data centre managers but it could provide a useful measure of business efficiency if business managers had access to it.
Access to real-time data will allow businesses to make better decisions, Drobik said. He highlighted one retail chain that now makes business decisions on a daily basis by gathering point of sale data every 15 minutes from its outlets.