IT pros 'must build their business knowledge'

The British Computing Society has backed a survey that claims IT managers should focus more on acquiring business skills and communications between departments

Many non-IT managers believe that building a wider understanding of the business environment should be a higher priority for IT managers than the delivery of IT services, according to a survey supported by the British Computing Society (BCS).

The survey, conducted by Management Today, found twenty-two percent of non-IT managers said that IT managers should concentrate on building business skills and 20 percent said that IT managers should give more priority to improving communications between IT and non-IT departments, rather than improving IT delivery.

IT managers themselves also recognised that improved communications between business units was desirable, with 27 percent saying they would like to see senior management address this problem. Nineteen percent of IT managers said they want to help improve the knowledge of technical issues within senior management.

Eighty-eight percent of non-IT managers said that IT managers did not need to have IT delivery as a top priority, but 17 percent would choose to increase the IT budget.

The survey also found that IT managers have more work to do to convince the rest of the business of IT's strategic importance. Fifty-six percent of non-IT managers said that IT did not have a fundamental strategic function, while 48 percent saw IT as a support service, enabling the business to deliver more effectively against its key objectives.

However, 70 percent of IT managers saw IT as a strategic function — only 29 percent saw it as a support service.

The BCS said the survey responses "give a snapshot of how non-IT managers see IT, offering some timely insights as the new BCS President Nigel Shadbolt sets out on his mission to improve the image of IT."

One hundred and twenty seven IT managers responded to the survey, which also polled almost 300 non-IT managers.

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