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January 29, 2008

Enterprise CIOs See IT as Enabler of Business Process Improvements

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Associate Editor

Market research firm Gartner (News - Alert) recently polled 1,500 enterprise chief information officers (CIOs) to find out what their outlook is for information technology (IT) in business during 2008.
More than two-thirds of the CIOs (85 percent) said IT will play an increasingly important role as companies look for ways to meet rising business expectations. IT is now an integral part of enterprise strategies, in other words.
CIOs, Gartner analyst Mark McDonald said, recognize the positive impact that IT can have on business processes, but that recognition is tempered somewhat by uncertainty regarding the best way to proceed.
“They are guarded in their confidence in IT's ability to create results in these areas,” McDonald noted in Gartner’s report about the survey results. “Momentum has been building for IT to play a larger role. This year, those expectations are beginning to outpace CIO confidence to deliver. This sharpens CIOs' concentration on IT capabilities like never before.”
The different technology can make is based on real results, McDonald said, rather than generic, “one size fits all” solutions.
“The message is consistent across the survey; business leaders expect IT to make the difference rather than deliver generic IT solutions,” McDonald said. “Making the difference involves taking on additional technical risk and cost, a departure from past CIO strategies that concentrated on managing these factors. CIOs will need to become more tolerant of risk and innovation and flexible to meet changing market and customer demands.”
Since most CIOs now stay with their firms for an average of four years and four months, they’re in a position to use IT to effect real, positive change, Gartner said. Business process improvement, these CIOs said, topped their list of priorities.
One area in particular CIOs are looking toward as a way to improve business processes is service oriented architecture (SOA) and service-oriented business applications. This type of technology has the potential to make enterprises significantly more efficient by enabling technology systems to be reused across departments, and for new applications to be built quickly and at minimum cost (both in terms of time and money).
Through investing in technologies like SOA, worldwide IT budgets should grow on average by 3.3 during 2008, Gartner said.
“Enterprises are willing to invest in IT that delivers distinctive solutions,” Gartner said in its report. “IT budgets at these companies are growing at a rate of 4.9 percent on average, compared with IT budgets at generic IT shops, which will rise an average of 3.1 percent.”

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Mae Kowalke is an associate editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Mae’s articles, please visit her columnist page. She also blogs for TMCnet here.

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