IT still struggles with image in boardroom

IT still has a poor reputation in many UK boardrooms, despite top-level awareness of the crucial role played by technology in global business.

IT still has a poor reputation in many UK boardrooms, despite top-level awareness of the crucial role played by technology in global business.

A survey of 555 global business heads by the Economist Intelligence Unit found nearly 66% saw technology as critical to achieving their growth strategies in international markets.

But when asked to rate the performance of various areas of their business, they rated HR worst, closely followed by IT.

Some 22% of respondents gave IT a rating of 4 or 5 (where 5 is poor), compared with 32% for HR, 20% for knowledge management/research and 20% for marketing/ sales.

But 37% gave IT a 1 or 2 rating (where 1 is excellent), compared with 53% for the CEOs' favourite, finance.

One of the report's authors, Andrew Palmer, said the findings showed there was still "a disconnect between those that wear business hats and those that wear IT hats" that had not improved much in recent years.

He said there was a perception among top-level business executives that IT suppliers were not meeting business needs as effectively as they might, which had the effect of casting the IT function in a negative light.

"On the business side, there is still this sense that IT is complicated and likely to go wrong, which means many CIOs need to continue to work at putting the business case for IT more effectively and get end-users more involved," said Palmer.

David Roberts, chief executive of blue chip user group the Corporate IT Forum, said one cause of IT's image problem within a corporate environment was that it was seen as a cost centre rather than a revenue generator.

"To other departments, what IT does it still a mystery. IT heads need to take work at every level in the organisation - from the boardroom to the end-users of systems - to demonstrate that IT is an integral part of the business.

"It has to take its services to the business functions and help them to develop approaches and solutions that they could not contemplate without IT."

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