Change management is biggest challenge this year, say IT leaders

Dealing with shifting business demands is the biggest challenge for UK IT directors over the next 12 months, closely followed by...

Dealing with shifting business demands is the biggest challenge for UK IT directors over the next 12 months, closely followed by aligning IT and business strategies and getting more from less.

The findings come from an exclusive survey of 240 senior IT directors during the IT Directors' Forum on board the cruiseship Aurora last month.

John Handby, chief executive of IT directors' organisation CIO Connect, said the priorities reflected both new challenges facing IT and a new maturity among senior IT professionals.

"Change management is becoming increasingly important because of the need to get business processes in line with IT implementations," he said.

"IT is drawn more into change management, as opposed to just IT projects, and it is developing this strategic role within the company. Increasingly IT is involved with issues around ensuring that change programmes are aligned to the strategic objectives of the company."

David Roberts, chief executive of The Corporate IT Forum, which represents more than 140 corporate IT directors, said, "Change management used to be about upgrades and version control, but now there are other processes that have to be governed. Business processes are having to change from traditional ways of working - both with customers and suppliers. The relationship is quite different from the traditional one."

The majority of IT directors questioned said managing infrastructure upgrades was their biggest technical challenge this year, which suggests that companies are investing more in their IT systems, following three years of spending cuts and budget freezes.

Concerns about governance, outsourcing and business continuity were all given a lower priority than in last year's survey.

At the 2003 IT Directors' Forum, 26% of users said business continuity was one of their top three challenges, but only 16% put it in the top three this year.

"With the perception of a terrorist threat, together with a greater dependence on IT, it is surprising," said Handby. "IT directors might think they have business continuity under control, but the evidence is that this is not the case."

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