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Disconnect Between IT and Top Management Is Growing

The disconnect between business and technology executives, unhealthy to begin with, is widening, according to a study released Wednesday by the A. T. Kearney management consulting firm.

The disconnect between business and technology executives, unhealthy to begin with, is widening, according to a study released Wednesday by the A. T. Kearney management consulting firm.

The results of the disconnect are having widespread negative results in large companies, including a 30 percent drop in technology innovation from 2002, the authors of the study said.

"These findings shatter the notion that IT leads the early adoption of technology and the business side slows down the process," said Mark Livingston, a Kearney vice president, in a statement. "The reality is most IT departments can't effectively explore innovative uses of technology because they are stuck in the daily operational grind. Business leaders accept this and look outside of IT for innovative technology resources to achieve strategic business goals."

The latest study results were compared with a 2002 Kearney study. In the earlier study--both conducted for Kearney by Harris Interactive--found that nearly one-third of study participants said they had a fully-integrated IT planning process. In the latest study, the percentage had dropped to one-fourth of study participants.

The latest study had some surprises. For instance, more than 50 percent of business leaders want to adopt technology early, sometimes before it matures, while just one-third of IT leaders wanted the same early adoption. "This finding shatters the notion that IT drives early adoption of technology, and the business side slows innovation and adoption. The study suggests that business realizes the importance of IT in its corporate strategy and performance, but IT may not be effectively positioned to help the business realize breakthrough strategies."

Researchers discovered that technology executives often get bogged down in so many day-to-day IT problems, that they have too little time remaining to spend on broader corporate planning strategy. "They end up focusing on the short term and playing catch-up," the report states.

Kearney looked at the IT differences between U.S. and European companies, finding that the two differed starkly. European firms place less value and reliance on IT than U.S. firms. "European executives also are much more likely to be concerned with the operational aspects of IT than with innovation," the researchers said.

Just 20 percent of European executives said they look upon IT innovation as being of critical importance to their firms, while the percentage among U.S. executives was almost one-third.

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