IT, business executives don't see eye to eye on innovation: survey

New survey of 800 IT and business leaders finds differences of opinion over who's behind innovation.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

IT managers say they're ready and competent to move forward with business innovation. However, business leaders don't quite think IT is up to the job.

This is the key finding of a new survey of 800 IT and business leaders released by CA Technologies, which finds IT and business leaders often have two different views on innovation, considered the way to get ahead in today's rough-and-tumble economy.

"IT respondents are more likely to position themselves as driving innovation, being an expert on innovation and having the required skills to foster innovation," the report states. "Yet, business executives more quickly identified IT’s shortcomings in regard to its ability to support and drive innovation. In fact, business executives are less likely to highly rate IT’s knowledge of the business, skill sets, communication skills and more."

Consider the fact that IT executives tend to assign themselves credit for innovation, while ranking top management's conribution third on the list. Conversely, top managers credit themselves with being innovation agents, while pushing IT executives down to fourth place. Clearly, there is little agreement here:

Biggest Instigator of Innovation -- According to IT Executives

  • IT                             34%
  • Customers               22%
  • Top management    20%
  • LOB employees        14%
  • Competitors             10%

Biggest Instigator of Innovation -- According to Business Executives

  • Top management     30%
  • Customers               20%
  • LOB employees        17%
  • IT                             14%
  • Competitors             9%

It's notable, and perhaps no coincidence,  that organizations that are calcified are more likely to have less interaction between IT and business leadership. For instance, 42% of those who have minimal or nonexistent levels of innovation at their organizations report that IT and the business have a siloed, distrustful or combative relationship, versus only 23% of those whose innovation is frequent or established. "This could serve as a wake-up call for IT and the business alike—if they truly want to drive innovation for their organization, they must trust each other and collaborate to have an impact." 

In addition, when looking across specific categories, the survey found large gaps can be found in rating IT’s knowledge of the business, IT’s business and communications skills, and overall speed and agility. One of the more striking disparities of perception pertains to IT’s “receptiveness to new ideas when approached by the business,” the report states. "Three-quarters of IT rated this as either excellent or good, while just 59% of business executives did the same, a very troubling indicator and a key area that IT needs to recognize and address."

However, the survey adds, the two factions did see eye-to-eye on common frustrations such as their organizations’ lack of agility, and budget and staff resource shortages.

The survey also points out that on average, one-fifth of current IT spend is allocated to innovation, and more than two-thirds of survey respondents anticipate an increase in innovation spend over the next year. Still IT continues to have to devote a majority (63%) of budget dollars to “keeping the lights on” vs. allocating it to delivering new business services (37%).

What kinds of new IT initiatives are behind these "new business services"? Mobile and business intelligence/analytics are the technologies most often considered essential to innovation, with mobile topping the planned investment area over the next 12 months. Organizations reporting high levels of innovation are also planning investments in cloud, security management, business analytics, service management and virtualization.

(Photo: US Bureau of Labor Statistics.)


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