Managing change is biggest concern, say IT chiefs

Change management is the top concern for IT directors for a second year running, according to Computer Weekly research.

Change management is the top concern for IT directors for a second year running, according to Computer Weekly research.

A survey of more than 200 IT leaders at this year's IT Directors Forum revealed that 47% believe managing change is the most important issue they face, up from 42.1% in 2006.

Considering the climate of rapid, continual and ubiquitous technological innovation, the increase is no surprise, said Roger Ellis, chairman of the IT Directors Network. He warned that the scale of change made it an even bigger challenge to manage that change, while keeping the business going.

"We are seeing rapid change on all fronts, which is one of the biggest challenges to business. It will get even worse, and I do not think we have seen anything yet," he said.

Dave Aron, vice-president and research director at analyst firm Gartner, said the lack of a standard or framework to guide IT directors is one of the main reasons why change management continues to be a major challenge.

Another contributing factor is the lack of skills in change management and, more specifically, leadership skills in this area.

A survey by user group CIO Connect in June found that 61% of IT directors were unfamiliar with popular theories of change management or how these theories translate into the practical skills required to lead transformation programmes.

In the same survey, almost 75% of respondents said their organisations had insufficient skills to drive through change management programmes successfully, and 73% said that existing change programmes were being hindered by a lack of skills.

Skills and staffing in general was a major concern for IT leaders at the IT Directors Forum. The issue was ranked as the second most important challenge faced by IT ­directors after change management, with 31% of the vote, up from 25.8% in 2006.

Aron said roles such as change management were maturing, making it harder for companies to find people with the necessary mix of skills. He added that people with the necessary gravitas and credibility for these roles were "like gold dust".

Like it or not, IT is at the heart of the change business >>

There is more to business success than technology >>

CIO Connect >>


Read more on Data centre hardware