IT Departments Still Not Driving Business Growth, Says Study

A global survey reveals that over half of businesses polled primarily rely on IT departments to increase efficiency of their operations. But IT is largely falling short of expectations to drive business growth in new areas. Fifty-one percent of respondents are C-level and board members and the remaining are senior executives and managers.


Conducted by Juniper Networks and the Economist Intelligence Unit, the survey showed that of all respondents, the highest-performing companies – those who report their financial performance is stronger than their industry peers – identify a different role for IT in key areas of their business.


Compared to their peers, 20 percent more of the high-performing companies say technology played a very strong role in their organisation's financial performance.


Eleven percent more of the high-performing companies strongly agree that the IT function can support business growth by identifying new market opportunities. Eight percent more of the high-performing companies say the IT function is very closely involved in helping develop new products and services.


Today, businesses are rushing to keep up with exponential data growth and meet fast-changing market needs for digital services, says the reporrt.


Financial institutions are delivering mobile banking applications while gaming companies are rebuilding their game catalogues as online services. As companies rush to deliver these new services, IT has an opportunity to play a role advancing these new business initiatives.


While most IT departments are not yet widely seen driving business growth, the companies surveyed predict the role of IT will begin shifting from tools of efficiency to engines of growth. Sixty percent of respondents report IT will be very closely or somewhat closely involved in helping to develop new products or services for the company over the next three years.


Importantly, survey respondents predicted the top technology trend that would impact the competitiveness of their business was collaboration and information sharing through networks.


When asked about the IT functions’ main strengths, the top response (42 percent) was “efficient execution of general business processes.”


Today, one in five (20 percent) respondents report that IT is only somewhat prepared or very unprepared to contribute to improved business growth.


Very few business respondents successfully collaborate with IT on strategic business imperatives such as identifying new market opportunities (nine percent), identifying new innovations (six percent) or developing a competitive strategy (five percent).


Disruptive Technologies
Global respondents predict the top technology investments over the next three years will be business information analysis (33 percent), followed by business process management (31 percent), cloud computing/virtualization (29 percent) and mobile devices (26 percent).


Respondents report the top technology trends influencing the competitiveness of their organisation over the next three years include collaboration and information sharing through networks (31 percent), the widespread availability of mobile devices (31 percent), and the ubiquitous nature of connected devices and integrated systems (27 percent).


“We must embrace disruptive technologies such as cloud and mobile that are propelling business growth to create an opportunity for IT to step out of a support function into a more strategic role," says Bask Iyer, senior vice president and chief information officer, Juniper Networks.


Rozina Ali, deputy editor at Economist Intelligence Unit, says that businesses still view the IT function in the traditional role of improving process efficiency. "However, to really take advantage of an increasingly digitised world, companies need to recognise the potential value of IT as a collaborative partner in identifying new opportunities,” says Ali.


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