IT seen as support function, not strategic

IT managers still need to 'prove their worth' and the IT department is seen as a mere support engine instead of a strategic innovator, according to a survey by Touchpaper.

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IT managers still need to 'prove their worth' and the IT department is seen as a mere support engine instead of a strategic innovator, according to a survey by Touchpaper.

A survey of 226 end users in the UK on their perceptions of the IT department found 85% believe IT's main function is to fix systems when something goes wrong.

A third of end user - 32% - contacted their IT department every day with support requests, and another 28% do this on a weekly basis.

The majority of respondents, 49%, indicated that their IT requests were completed within a few hours, but a significant proportion, 35%, said that their IT requests took over 24 hours or did not get completed at all.

Touchpaper said the research shows that IT is still perceived as a "fixer" rather than a strategic business unit.

The IT business management solutions provider added that innovation can often be sidelined due to the time-consuming management of repetitive tasks. The IT department is often left to deal with standard requests rather than driving new projects such as introducing new services.

Either most IT shops only offer basic levels of support without really embracing their potential as a business change-maker, or IT workers are failing to communicate their value and goals to the rest of the organisation, according to Graham Ridgway, CEO of Touchpaper.

“Despite IT support ranking high on the list of end users’ priorities, the true potential of the IT department has yet to be fully tapped,” said Ridgway.

“The sheer volume of daily requests from end users suggests that most IT departments are purely fire-fighting – they’re bogged down in day-to-day activities because they don’t have the right systems in place to deal with repetitive, routine requests effectively.”

He added that the research suggests the IT department is taking too long on the type of activities that could be dealt with more effectively through the adoption of more automated processes or a self-help system.

“Too much time is being wasted on ‘reinventing the wheel’ because solutions to common problems aren’t being properly recorded and shared among support staff,” said Ridgway.

"IT departments have to prove their worth, as this research shows that users’ perception of IT continues to undervalue the role it plays within an organisation.”

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