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The Way Business Is Moving

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Issue Date: July 2008

Information lag hits nine out of 10 companies

July 2008

Research commissioned by Progress Software reveals that a high percentage of businesses are being hampered by the poor flow of information.

Research commissioned by Progress Software reveals that a high percentage of businesses are being hampered by the poor flow of information.
The results of the study, which surveyed CIOs, senior IT managers and department heads across 500 European businesses, show that the majority of respondents are not receiving business-critical data in realtime, or in a format that suits them.
The research shows strong indicators of a struggle within enterprises to access, manipulate and interpret business-critical information. In addition to these findings, the research revealed that businesses are now adopting service-oriented architecture (SOA) to improve the flow of information and provide them with more flexible IT infrastructure.
Key findings of the survey include:
* Businesses have very complex and information-driven environments with great demands - 75% of business managers need to access information from at least 11 regions.
* Demand for comprehensive, accurate and current business information is out-stripping supply by some distance - 88% needing improved information flow up and down the supply chain.
* Current performance is not satisfying the business need for better, faster information - only 50% of respondents have access to realtime information.
* Steps are being taken to take control of the distributed, multivendor, proprietary environment and begin the process of delivering to the business - 58% now have an SOA strategy in place.
The information gap
The research revealed that businesses are suffering from an information gap that is slowing down their ability to act on information that could help them to drive business change, says Rick Parry, MD of Progress Software South Africa. "The research shows most organisations do not have optimum visibility of their customers, or even of their own business. As a result, they are missing out on growth opportunities because they cannot respond fast enough to market conditions, or have the speed to adapt to new regulations.
Rick Parry, MD of Progress Software South Africa
Rick Parry, MD of Progress Software South Africa
"Businesses are in danger of becoming static because of this time lag between information being requested and reaching the right person or department."
Key findings related to the flow of information include:
* Managers have to look at three to four different sources for the critical business information they need.

* Only 38% get the critical business information when they need it - and typically have to wait a week.

* Where critical business services are outsourced, 39% say visibility of performance is not in a timescale that suits them.
39% able to deliver information when required
The survey questioned 250 CIOs and IT directors and 250 business department heads across Europe, covering a number of sectors in the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and Finland.
Respondents expressed a mixture of concern and frustration - 77% of IT directors and CIOs acknowledged that their businesses required realtime data and up-to-the-minute information. This problem was compounded by the fact that just 39% were able to deliver information when it was required.
Though IT has become accepted as an integral component of the business process and an enabler that gives business a competitive edge, the information that could affect change was slow to travel between business units. However there were some encouraging signs that businesses are moving in the right direction. Although the majority of IT systems are not equipped to provide an immediate response to events, 83% of those surveyed claimed that their systems were able to drive the business in response to market trends and a constantly changing business environment.
Global growth tests IT to the limit
The research revealed that increasing levels of responsibility are being placed on IT as businesses compete globally and have offices in multiple regions. This is particularly acute in businesses that have grown rapidly and have dispersed widely, as they find it difficult to remain agile and monitor business processes. Key findings related to the issue of global competitiveness include:
* On average 75% of the business managers surveyed need to access business information from at least 11 different regions.

* 80% need to monitor supplier performance.

* 53% are watching and being judged against key performance indicators (KPIs).
The importance of SOA
The research also suggests that SOA has been accepted by the IT departments of Europe's big businesses. Two thirds of CIOs and IT directors also believe that SOA will become the de facto architecture in the next five years. Further-SOA related findings include:
* 58% now have a SOA strategy in place.

* 75% say their SOA strategy has executive sponsorship.

* 35% already say the SOA strategy is enterprise-wide.
Rudiger Spies, VP of Enterprise Applications at IDC, had this to say about the impact that SOA is having on enterprises: "SOA is touching every aspect of the business and it is not product-specific, or indeed industry-specific. The trouble is that the discussion is often still too technical, but the benefits are being seen across enterprises. Ultimately, though, it is up to individual enterprises to decide how SOA can best meet their needs. And it is those companies that take the lead which will be able to differentiate themselves."
Parry adds: "The fact that nine out of 10 people said they need information faster suggests that IT is seen as critical, but is struggling to keep up with the way business is changing - particularly in an economic situation where speed of response is often a differentiator. Unless IT catches up and begins to really support a business rather than restrain it, confidence will be lost and board members will begin to look elsewhere for a solution."
He concludes: "IT systems need to live up to their promise and start adding value. Business people do not buy technology: they buy results."
For more information contact Rick Parry, Progress Software, +27 (0)11 254 5403, rparry@progress.com


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