Startup helps CIOs to mind their own business

Startup ITM Software has developed a foundation application and series of add-on software modules designed to help chief...

Startup ITM Software has developed a foundation application and series of add-on software modules designed to help chief information officers manage IT as a business-within-a-business, rather than simply as a function.

The modules target management of supplier relationships, project portfolios, human capital and governance and standards such as Sarbanes-Oxley.

"IT is becoming a mature function," said chairman and chief executive officer Kenneth Coleman. "CIOs have to focus on managing cost, adding more value, becoming more transparent. Everything we do is focused on those objectives for the CIO and IT staff."

ITM's software is priced at an average of $100,000 per module, including services, for a company with about 1,000 IT staff.

Pressure on CIOs to demonstrate the value of IT to the business, to manage outsourcing and comply with new regulatory requirements such as the Sarbanes-Oxley act may make the time ripe for products such as ITM's, according to analysts.

"Lots of people we're talking to are grappling with these issues," said Dana Gardner, senior analyst for application infrastructure and software platforms at The Yankee Group.

"They need accountability and they don't have visibility." The kinds of management tools more traditionally available to IT executives provide technical metrics, not business information, Gardner added.

"IT organisations need better technology to really function as a business," said Dennis Gaughan, research director at AMR Research.

Other companies are addressing this arena along with ITM and it will have to compete with some major players, Gaughan said. "What's interesting about ITM is that it's all driven off a consistent data model. That's the luxury of a startup company; other vendors have an integration challenge."

Customers will also face a challenge: motivating IT staff to input and update the information in the ITM tools, Gardner and Gaughan agreed.

"IT organisations are, by and large, not very well defined in their processes," Gaughan said. "A lot of this data exists, but in different places. You have to enforce a discipline in the organisation, that hasn't been there before, for this to really be successful."

ITM, based in Mountain View, California, has raised $12.8m in venture capital to date, closing its latest $3.8m round of financing earlier this month.

Besides targeting North America, it is also selling in Japan and has Japanese versions of its products available. Coleman expected the company to be in Europe later this year, with an early focus on the UK, Netherlands, France and Germany.

Elizabeth Heichler writes for IDG News Service

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