Over 80 per cent of UK IT professionals are under pressure from business management to deliver more value from their existing computing infrastructures. This is the finding of a survey conducted by independent research company Vanson Bourne during April 2006 amongst 100 senior IT Decision makers in UK companies with more than 1000 employees – half of which employ more than 3000 people.
The 100 interviews – which were shared equally between: retail, distribution and transport; financial services; manufacturing and other commercial sectors – found very little difference in response between companies of 1000-3000 (80 per cent) employees and those with over 3,000 staff (81 per cent).
There was, however, differences sector-by-sector. Nearly all IT professionals in retail distribution and transport – at 96 per cent – are being required to get more out of their existing systems followed by manufacturing at 80 per cent, other commercial at 75 per cent and financial services at 71 per cent.
“We are clearly seeing a maturing in the attitude of business management towards IT investment – the failure of `rip and replace` and even greenfield projects and the disappointments of the dot com boom have prompted a new agenda where the prime motivation for management is to maximise the value of current infrastructure,” says Jim Rivera, VP Product Management , Cape Clear Software.
“This is even more pronounced in areas of the economy where competition is particularly fierce and margins are tight such as in retail, distribution and transport.”
Integrate and interoperate
In responding to the challenge to deliver more from existing systems in line with business requirements the top challenge cited by respondents was the ability to integrate and interoperate new systems with an average of 57 per cent nominating this issue. Overall, this varied from as low as 40 per cent in manufacturing up to 72 per cent in retail, distribution and transport. This issue appeared more pressing amongst larger companies with 59 per cent those employing more than 3,000 highlighting it as the top issue against 53 per cent of those employing 1000-3000.
Increasing speed of development was highlighted as an issue by just under half (49 per cent) of those responding. Those working in smaller firms (53 per cent) were shown to be more concerned than those in larger firms (46 per cent). Again, retail distribution and transport described this as their top issue at 64 per cent with other commercial at 39 per cent.
Lack of common language
Lack of a common language between business and IT to define the direction of development was cited by just under half of respondents (47 per cent) with slightly more smaller firms believing this to be an issue (49 per cent) than larger firms (46 per cent). This is causing the biggest challenges in other commercial sectors (54 per cent) closely followed by financial services (52 per cent) with least concern being shown in retail, distribution and transport at 36 per cent.
Reducing cost of development followed close behind at 44 per cent overall but being highlighted as a more significant issue (49 per cent) in smaller firms compared to 41 per cent in larger firms. Manufacturing considered this the biggest problem at 64 per cent whilst other commercial believed it to be least at 32 per cent.
Proprietary suppliers and skills shortages Other issues highlighted included being trapped by proprietary suppliers and environments at 26 per cent overall with much more concern – 36 per cent – being shown in other commercial environments than in financial services at 19 per cent. Skills shortages were registered by 19 per cent – but with only 8 per cent in manufacturing believing this to be a problem versus 29 per cent in other commercial. A lack of appreciation of SOA/web services at 13 per cent overall but with a pronounced difference between smaller companies at 9 per cent and larger companies at 17 per cent.
“All these issues point to a significant role for the implementation of open systems-based service oriented architectures which – properly implemented – allow existing and new systems to effectively interoperate, delivering faster and lower cost development and facilitating a common language for business and IT management. The ever present issue of skills shortages is still with us but is of relatively small concern as is an ignorance of SOA and web services although with so much to gain the larger firms should make an effort to catch up with the lead demonstrated in this area by smaller outfits.”