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UK IT bosses confused about governance

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IT heads in the UK are convinced that better IT governance will impress senior management, but few of them have the money to invest in better systems.

Research from the Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned by Mercury Interactive, showed that chief information officers around the world think that better IT governance will restore management's faith in IT, with 70 per cent of UK CIOs stating that better IT governance would lead to more accurate financial reporting.

But a follow-up survey conducted by Mercury itself found that only 26 per cent of CIOs in the UK could afford to up their spend on tracking their IT projects, compared to 43 per cent across Europe.

Not only that, but CIOs do not regard their own departments very highly: when asked to rank departments according to how important they are to the business, these same CIOs only rank IT in sixth place, far behind departments such as finance and even marketing. Only HR ranked lower.

Many CIOs also think their departments are not sufficiently connected with the business to implement governance properly. Almost 50 per cent of UK CIOs said that the biggest obstacle to compliance was that the IT department lacked business insight, while 45 per cent said it lacked the necessary skills.

Speaking at a press conference in London yesterday, Elie Kanaan, vice president of marketing at Mercury, said that there is a fine line between mere IT management and IT governance.

Kev Roberts, CIO at Gedas, part of the VW group, explained: "It is one thing to know what you are doing, but it is quite another to correlate that with what the business wants you to be doing."

He argued that while IT might focus on "how are we going to do that?" other areas of the business have another language. They are concerned about the impact on metrics, cost per unit and so on. "If we can talk to management in their language, that allows management to make decisions about investment in IT," Roberts added.

He concluded that IT governance can actually elevate the CIO within an organisation, if only because it allows IT to become a more integrated part of the business. ®

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