Study Confirms CIOs Still Struggle

Even though the role of chief information officers (CIOs) has become integral to the majority of companies in the U.S. and Europe, their jobs aren’t getting any easier, a new study concludes. Infact, ensuring that business objectives and the applications that support them are in alignment is an ongoing hurdle for IT executives, and for some a losing battle.

The CIO Technology Management Survey, released this week by Forrester Research and commissioned by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Mercury Interactive Corp., states that the most difficult tasks IT professionals face in the workplace include successfully integrating IT into business processes, ensuring IT supports business needs and strategies, and evaluating how successful IT performance actually is.

These tasks are made even more difficult, the study says, with the inclusion of Web services and wireless access to business applications, which create interdependence between primary and outside IT infrastructures.

“Web services offer great promise with tremendous risk,” said Ken Klein, chief operating officer for Mercury Interactive. “You’re taking an application and mashing it into lots of little pieces and spreading it across the supply chain. IT is really choking on complexity and have very limited ways to measure the quality of those services and their efficiency.”

Klein added that the reason behind commissioning the survey was to confirm some of the data they had been hearing from clients and to view current topical issues in the IT industry in a more quantitative way. Many issues, Klein says, IT executives are reluctant to talk about.

“Costs are out of control for many companies and CIOs are being asked to align with businesses immediately, which are really impractical expectations, especially when they haven’t had the business technology optimization (BTO) solutions to measure, maximize, and manage their IT systems,” said Klein.

The CIO Technology Management Survey statistics were gleaned from to 87 U.S.-based IT executives and 35 European IT executives during August and September of this year.

The majority of the IT executives polled came from companies with annual revenues in the billions, although 34 percent represented companies that made under $1 billion, and 11 percent came from companies that made $500 in revenue and less.

The study states that while 33 percent of IT task masters feel that business functions and the infrastructures that support them are greatly improved, only 15 percent of those surveyed feel their organizations are successfully applying those applications to enhance business goals.

According to Forrester’s research, this number is even lower, 5 percent, among companies with more than $10 billion in annual revenue.

Thirty percent of those polled felt their companies tested the quality of applications before deploying them, but only 16 percent felt those applications were being properly maximized.

The study also concluded that 41 percent of companies that rely on commercial software for measuring IT performance still have no means of pinpointing their “most serious” IT problems.

Seventy percent of those respondents recognized the need to find new solutions to help them achieve their testing and optimization objectives, the study said. While only 25 percent said their companies successfully defined and measured IT performance of automated business processes.

Additionally, nearly 50 percent of the IT executives polled cited lowering overall IT costs and improving product and process quality as a top priority. Fifty-one percent plan to transform IT into a service-driven or business-centric model over the next two years, and 83 percent plan to upgrade existing applications to new versions over the next two years.

Only 54 percent plan to purchase new applications over the next few years.

“The tightening IT spending environment is really moving to the forefront,” said Klein. “What we saw from the survey was that there was a need to manage quality throughout the entire software lifecycle, and a need to really run IT as a business, i.e. to ensure that IT generates high quality and low cost,” said Klein