No excuses on ICT

commentary A report released this week punches home an unequivocal message to Australia's private and public sector managers on ICT investment. No excuses.

commentary A report released this week punches home an unequivocal message to Australia's private and public sector managers on ICT investment. No excuses.

If you get the management practices right -- and adopt a positive, flexible attitude -- your organisation reaps the benefits.

The report -- Achieving Value from ICT: key management strategies -- argues ICT-related benefits are largely derived from "factors within an organisation's control," with the size of the organisation and the industry in which it operates not being "major determinants".

"Further," the report -- a survey of 1050 firms from 15 industry categories -- argues, "realising value is not dependent on the amount spent on ICT or the particular applications or systems that are used".

The report's authors -- consultancy Opticon and the Australian National University -- go on to list a number of good practices that can assist in exploiting ICT, including: understanding by enterprise managers that ICT investments are made to gain advantage rather than responding to government pressures or industry trends; a recognition that organisational transformation is a necessary accompaniment to ICT implementation and; an acknowledgement that you must be patient to reap the benefits of expenditure on ICT.

The Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Helen Coonan, provided extra punch to the findings at their release at a business breakfast, arguing they backed the need for ICT to be driven from the "boardroom not the backroom".

"Unless there is recognition at the highest levels ... that technology is critical to an organisation's ongoing success -- and there is the drive and patience to pursue technology strategies from senior management, then the chances of a successful implementation of ICT are significantly lessened," Coonan said.

However, while such a message is superb in theory, reality unfortunately intrudes. As many managers know, persuading peers or superiors to loosen the purse strings unless an urgent deadline looms can be very tough; proposed organisational transformation can threaten staff and management alike, generating fierce and debilitating opposition; and budgeting is not always amenable to benefits that may be derived months or years down the future.

What do you think of the report's findings? Is the message realistic? What impediments do you face as a manager to investing in ICT? E-mail us at edit@zdnet.com.au and let us know.

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