IT “Highly Valued”, But Not a Major Contributor to Innovation - Business
A survey has found that IT, while being “highly valued” by businesses, is not seen as a major contributor to innovation by most senior execs. New Media Knowledge wanted to find out why and what could be done to change board level minds.
Nearly nine in ten (87 per cent) senior executives across the globe believe IT is important to their business but do not see it an important contributor to innovation, according to a new survey. The US-based IT Governance Institute (ITGI) commissioned consultants at PriceWaterhouseCoopers Belgium to interview 250 non-IT executives in 22 countries to determine their perception of IT’s contribution to the business and how they govern IT.
While many see IT as a major contributor in its “traditional strongholds” - efficiency and effectiveness – nearly two-thirds (59 per cent) do not view IT’s contribution to innovation as “important or very important”. Many believe that IT departments are not advising C-level executives as to the business benefits that technology can provide and 40 per cent of companies do not currently have IT represented on the board.
“Executive management is generally convinced of the value of IT investments, but there is a significant lost opportunity that enterprises can close by measuring that value and paying more attention to IT’s potential contributions to innovation,” said John Thorp of ITGI’s IT Governance Committee.
Touching the Void
According to David Cruikshank, co-founder of small business software provider Business IT Online, deployment of IT systems that can contribute to further business innovation are generally avoided to minimise risk, which may help explain senior executives perception of IT as an enabler rather than a contributor to innovation.
“Innovative processes, by definition, create new and uncertain ways of working. They are explorative and frequently unpredictable,” he told NMK. “My experience is that many company executives choose to architect IT solutions that are completely void of uncertainty or unpredictability to avoid nasty surprises and this would explain an operational disconnect between the uncertainty of innovation and the quest for certainty in IT.”
According to ITGI’s survey only a third of enterprises turn to their IT departments to provide information about potential business opportunities enabled by new technologies. For James Cherkoff of new media consultancy Collaborate Marketing, a cultural – even generational – gap is emerging which could determine which enterprises can best use technology, such as new media, to innovate and those who get left behind.
“New media has gone mainstream so executives at every level must be seen to be on top of the issues and innovations in the area,” he said. “Not only the technology but how it's changing society and consumer behaviour. In a recent training session I ran, one executive explained how he no longer felt that he fully understood the media experience his young, male customers were immersed in. His corporate firewall prevented him from logging onto the social networks where he knows they now spend so much of their time - a big problem for someone who is paid to understand how brands can create attention.”
Cherkoff pointed out that Group M, media giant WPP’s investment arm, expects interact media to exceed TV in the UK for the first time this year, attracting more than 28 per cent of all advertising budgets. He also cites the popularity of blogs, such as the BBC’s economic expert Robert Peston’s, which was receiving 500,000-plus visitors a day in September last year as the news cycle shrunk from days to hours, as another indicator of where business minds should be focussing technology to their advantage.
ITGI offers the following advice to businesses to help make more effective use of IT in business. The full report can be read here.
• Take ownership of IT governance and assume overall accountability over IT
• Make the CIO reporting line as direct as possible to the top executive decision body
• Use external advisors, when necessary, as a source of knowledge and guidance
• Pay more attention to the potential for innovation IT can offer
• Start measuring the value that IT brings - or does not bring -to the enterprise