Forget strategy, IT managers are too busy fighting fires

Instead of mapping out strategy, IT managers are spending almost half their time dealing with the day-to-day issues they face, along with the odd crisis.

The average IT manager knows that they should be focused on business strategy and the future progress of the organisation they work for — the problem is that they are too busy fighting fires to find time for blue-sky thinking. That’s the conclusion of the latest research from IT services company Calyx.

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Research involving 200 UK IT directors and CIOs showed that when asked to name what they felt were their key roles, only a third (33 percent) identified driving strategic growth as one of them. More worryingly perhaps, only 11 percent said that developing strategic concepts was a key priority according to the survey by Calyx. Only 16 percent could say the same about using IT to drive the future development and direction of the business.

So if they are not using their time to think of ways to use IT to drive the business forward, what are they spending their time doing? According to the survey, they are too busy trying to fix the day-to-day problems that bedevil IT departments.

Nearly half (46 percent) of those surveyed said that their day-to-day tasks mainly involve fire-fighting — despite the fact that more than half (64 percent) said that they sat on the board of directors. As the survey points out, if the most senior managers are too busy to focus on the strategic direction, who is steering the ship?

The survey paints a picture of IT managers being dragged from one problem to another and with little time left for any strategic planning or goal-setting. The managers said they were too busy dealing with data management issues (60 percent of them), and/or security (44 percent) and dealing with board-driven demands for cost effectiveness and cost cutting (33 percent).

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