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Blog: The Business-IT Expectation Gap is There and it Matters

Blog: The Business-IT Expectation Gap is There and it Matters

Business functional view of the importance of technology is not synonymous with IT's ability to provide it.

Had a chance recently to examine Forrester's July 2008 survey of 600 business executives and how they perceived IT's role in their organizations, both in terms of importance of technology and how well IT support that technology requirement. The survey (which will be published in the near future on www.forrester.com) also reported the responder results by primary business organizations -- executive, sales, customer service, marketing, product development, manufacturing/supply chain, and finance/HR. A few highlights:

Technology-dependency does not imply that all of it originates with IT. Eighty-two percent of responders agree that technology is core to their business, but only 71 percent see IT's role as effective. In the context of its importance to business functions, product development, not surprisingly, place the highest level of importance and are the least satisfied.

Not necessarily integral to enterprise competitiveness. For those that may think the role of IT has become more strategic to enterprise competitiveness, think again. Seventy-two of responders see technology as central to this goal, but 61 percent see IT as effective. But product development, marketing, supply chain and executives are least satisfied in comparison to technology’s relative importance to their roles.

Sales and distribution depend on tech, but don't count on IT. Seventy-seven percent view it as mandatory for sales and distribution, but only 67 percent see IT as effectively supporting them, with the gap between importance and effectiveness demonstrated by most business functions.

Supporting business drivers — a wide gap. When asked to assess the importance of business drivers and compare how well IT is at supporting them, the gap widens. The only category where IT support quality approached importance of the business driver was in improving end-user workforce productivity — 78 percent viewed this as a somewhat or critically important business driver, but only 60 percent viewed IT as supporting this need very well or excellently.

Of course, your mileage may vary and these are probably not issues in your firm. But if they could be, it's time for you to first measure perception and then diagnose your own gaps and mitigating tactics.

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