Study reveals corporate failure to safeguard core IT assets

Results of the global study – “Safeguarding the Corporate IT Assets” – by Micro Focus, in conjunction with leading international business school INSEAD, carried out amongst CFOs, CIOs, and HR Directors across five countries (France, Germany, Italy, UK and US) highlight how the vital skill-sets to manage and maintain core IT assets are being marginalized by the world’s leading companies. Many of these organizations are focusing on IT skills for newer Web 2.0 technologies at the expense of the crucial skill-sets required to future-proof the core systems that are most business-critical to the successful execution of operations.

Micro Focus research, carried out in 450 companies with revenues from $100m up to over $1bn, shows that nearly two thirds (60%) of CFOs, CIOs and HR Directors from organizations across the globe stated that core systems and databases are business critical, compared with just over a third (38%), who felt the same about systems using new technologies. However, despite reinforcing the importance of core IT assets to business success, respondents revealed that it is the newer technologies which are receiving budget when it comes to recruiting skilled IT professionals. Over half of all those polled (56%) confirmed newer, web-based technologies are the skills being recruited for the most today.

According to the research, less than one in seven (13%) CFOs are very confident that the knowledge and skills exist within their organizations to maintain core IT assets into the future. Despite this, nearly two thirds (60%) of CFOs surveyed highlight that in a recession, skills to modernize core IT assets are the most valuable, rather than skills to implement new replacement technologies.

This new extensive research follows an INSEAD/Micro Focus study in October 2007 which revealed less than half of CFOs and CIOs from leading companies ever try to quantify the financial value of their core IT assets. This latest research includes a number of important findings.

The research identifies a concerning lack of a drive to recruit specialists in technologies which typically form the bulk of core IT assets (e.g. COBOL, PL1, CICs). Less than a third of CIOs (29%) polled believed their organization was recruiting enough of these professionals, even though they state they recognize the value that these assets bring to their businesses. Only one in six (16%) CIOs have any confidence that the right recruitment strategies for the vital skills and knowledge required to maintain core IT assets are in place.

German CFOs are the least appreciative of the business-criticality of systems using newer technologies, whereas their US counterparts are more easily impressed by the impact these technologies have had on their business. Only 27% of CFOs in Germany say systems using newer Web 2.0 and social networking technologies are very business-critical or the most business critical to the success of business operations, compared with 56% of US respondents, 40% of the UK sample, 31% of Italians and 31% of French Finance Heads.

IT is in most need of recruitment according to most UK HR Directors (67%), yet a tiny number of UK CIOs (13%) hire people with specialist skills and an understanding of IT/ business alignment. The majority hire on the basis of technology skills alone!

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