Boardroom cynics see IT as spending 'black hole'

From IT's perception as "liberator" in its glory days, the challenge for IT professionals now is to banish the "black hole" role and overcome boardroom cynicism.

And the keys to a gaining a better image include aligning with business and making IT expenditure more 'visible'.

Kevin Joyce, general manager Asia Pacific for Integrated Research, said the advantage IT directors hold within a company is that they have a "bird's eye view" of the enterprise and they should use this knowledge to their advantage, especially since the days of the CEO and executives not understanding technology is over.

Joyce, whose company provides a Web-based systems management tool, believes it is important for CIOs to measure IT's benefits to the business to provide a value proposition back to the company's board of directors and CEO.

He said to ensure the visibility of IT spend, it is imperative for CIOs to provide key performance indicators (KPIs) in their reports, such as performance, availability and trading.

"This will make [CIOs] more informed and able to prove value and improve value."

Since the Commonwealth Bank of Australia's managing director David Murray delivered a scathing attack against the IT industry saying it had failed to deliver on promises at the 2002 World Congress on IT in Adelaide, boardrooms have become outwardly cynical of IT.

"The microscope has been put on IT's spend."

Joyce said IT professionals need to work towards IT being viewed as "dependable, aligned, providing good ROI, being visible and mandatory", as opposed to the present situation where it is seen as a "black hole to pour money down, something that you don't see any ROI on, a hollow promise, useful at best, unreliable and optional".

Measuring performance is a way Joyce believes will help IT rebuild its credibility.

"[Measuring] is important as often there are scenarios, for example, where there is a disconnect between the finance manager saying he has no systems available and IT saying systems haven't been down. Obviously IT is not measuring the right things."

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