Business Users Satisfied With IT? Think Again

IT has reason to worry, says InformationWeek's new IT Perception Survey that compares attitudes of technology and business pros.
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It's been said that IT is the Rodney Dangerfield of the enterprise: IT just gets no respect. To be fair, it's hard to get respect when you're working with a subsistence budget and bound by rules that outside competitors, like SaaS providers, can ignore with impunity. This isn't news. But quantifying how IT thinks it's doing versus how the business really views IT's performance, that's a tougher job, one we tackled with our IT Perception Survey. By comparing 246 IT and 136 non-IT respondents, we found out where business customers are in sync with their IT teams, and where they're not. We asked about everything from the overall importance of internal IT operations to business success to IT's role in innovation to user satisfaction with IT projects.

Our goal was to give you insight into where business leaders sympathize, and where they don't. After all, when business units are evaluating new applications, it's tough to compete with SaaS vendors that will provision services within minutes of getting a signed contract--or even with a few mouse clicks. Meanwhile, IT's still figuring out who will be on the team to evaluate the request, weigh options, choose the system that will best meet business needs, find money in the budget, and eventually integrate it into the existing infrastructure. The days of taking weeks or months to spin up a new server may be well behind us, but compared with going to a vendor website and clicking "buy," IT still takes its time and seems slow to respond.

As a result, most business pros are not particularly thrilled with how IT delivers on projects. In fact, just 18% say they're very or completely satisfied with quality, timeliness, and cost. What's worse is that IT pros think that number is much higher--29% believe business colleagues are very or completely satisfied. It's like wearing brown shoes with a tuxedo and thinking you're the coolest guy in the room. Don't kid yourself--delayed projects, cost overruns, or even just producing results that look ill-conceived and clunky compared with cool end user apps has got your customers thinking there must be a better way.

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Sure, there are a thousand factors they aren't considering. Things like compliance, integration, security, all that stuff that's just plain hard to get right, and that will invariably come back to bite any application--no matter how cool--that hasn't been built with an eye to such requirements. But all too often, that's a problem for later.

Here's a quick look at some survey findings:

-- More than twice as many business users call themselves not at all satisfied with project quality, timeliness, and cost (20%) as IT believes (9% said their business side customers feel this way). (Tweet this stat)

-- We'd be dead in the water without IT: 60% of IT pros agree, only 43% of biz pros see it that way. Tweet this stat)

-- How important will the IT team be in two years? Nine percent of IT pros say less important, only 4% of business respondents agree. They want you to succeed. (Tweet this stat)

-- When asked how important IT is to innovation, 32% of IT pros say extremely important. Only 25% of business pros agree. (Tweet this stat)

-- When asked, Is your IT group more innovative than peers at other companies, 69% of IT pros say they are, and 62% of business respondents agree. (Tweet this stat)

-- Over the past two years, has IT become more important to the organization? IT pros are more likely to say yes, by a 56% to 51% margin. (Tweet this stat)

You can get full results in our report.

Our conclusions? More IT teams should be polling business customers to see how they're doing. Perception is reality, and you're not the only game in town. The second conclusion is a bit more difficult to discern from our data, but a number of questions reveal that IT policies and practices are simply unknown to business-side partners. For example, when asked whether IT has budget specifically earmarked for new and innovative business projects, 17% of business respondents had no clue. One thing's for sure: Being opaque about how you do things is not helpful in winning business-side champions. No one has had it easy over the past five years. Be open and honest about where your IT strategy is good and where you could use help--and when alternatives make sense, listen.

How IT's Perceived by Business

Our full report is available free with registration.

Summary: Only 43% of non-IT people consider their IT teams integral to the business, our survey finds, and 54% consider IT a support or maintenance organization and not an innovator. But 59% say technology’s becoming more critical to the business.
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