Closing the perception gap between business and IT

December 9, 2009   by Corinne Lynds

Canadian IT departments are more in sync with their organization’s top priorities than they were last year, but they’re still having a tough time communicating their effectiveness.

That was the conclusion of a survey conducted by Strategic Counsel in August for CA Canada, a global provider of IT management, that polled 250 IT and business managers about the level of communication and understanding between the two groups.

“When the survey was first started, we had some ideas around governance and IT/business relationships and what factors would feed into relative perception and IT effectiveness,” explains Warren Shiau, lead IT analyst at Strategic Counsel.

IT manager working a server station aligning technology with business priorities.

“It was to identify whether or not there is a perception gap, contributing factors and initiatives that could reduce the gap.”

Results from the second annual survey show a significant gap exists: business managers don’t see IT being as effective as IT perceives itself to be. That, according to Shiau, is a fairly significant problem.

Almost two-thirds of the IT managers surveyed rate their organizations as effective or very effective at aligning information technology with business priorities compared with 56% of business managers who agree. Last year just 39% agreed.

IT organizations were rated as effective or very effective at improving service to end-users, according to 63% of their managers. Fifty-four per cent of the business managers agreed, versus a meagre 30% last year.

Shiau finds it particularly worrying in a year of economic uncertainty that there’s such a divergent perception of IT’s accountability, transparency and effectiveness at controlling costs.

Sixty-three per cent of technology managers rated their organization’s IT unit as effective or very effective in these areas, while only 42% of business managers agreed.

“The survey results indicate if IT can learn how to better communicate and present its results to business managers, that perception will continue to improve,” says Shiau.

Both sides agreed on the top IT priorities for the next 12 months: aligning IT with business priorities; controlling IT costs; and improving service to end-users.

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