Work council is addressing the wrong questions

The new Information Work Productivity Council is setting out to answer the wrong questions.

The new Information Work Productivity Council is setting out to answer the wrong questions.

IT suppliers that are worried about lack of investment by users need a blunt assessment of their own shortcomings before they can expect their customers to enthusiastically open up their wallets.

Above all, IT suppliers have failed to convince their customers' users - the internal business and finance functions of large corporates - of the benefits of major investment.

Many company boards are pleased with the results of their IT investments, but others are not. The latter highlight the failure to deliver a sensible percentage of the claimed savings and advantages.

Having been bitten once by the failed delivery promise, they are now being bitten again by the costs of maintaining their existing systems through an endless application of bug-fixes and patches into increasingly complex corporate IT infrastructures.

The real concerns of chief executives and IT directors revolve around the cost of IT, rather than the productivity of labour.

Academics such as the Information Work Productivity Council will completely miss the point if they concentrate solely on the US market.

Europe produced more revenue for several of the top suppliers than the US in the past two years. More importantly, they should look back to the Microsoft licensing issue of October 2001. Europe rebelled at the cost - the US did not.

Europe is where the real finance and business sceptics are airing their arguments about the need to reduce the procurement and implementation costs of IT. Anyone needing further evidence of this should look at the steep decline in IT consultants' day rates in the UK.

The IT industry should focus on its own productivity, not that of its customers' businesses. If the industry stopped pushing out bug-ridden software and improved the quality of its basic engineering, it would get a more sympathetic hearing in our members' boardrooms.

David Roberts is chief executive of the Corporate IT Forum, Tif

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