Information Week Agility Poll

I keep track of the Information Week polls at the end of each issue as tea leaves that help determine the direction and more importantly the pace of change in IT. Back on July 25th of this year Information Week published some data on Business Agility.

For example, they asked the following questions:
1)Is risk management a business priority for your IT personnel ?
Now one of the tenets of Agile Development is the risk-reducing methods of test-driven design and development. All of the major development methods from RUP-Rational Unified Process through FDD-Feature Driven Development to Extreme Programming encourage the use of testing early and often in order to reduce overall IT project risk.

But only 40% of small business shops do risk management, 35% of medium sized shops and 50% of corporates. Perhaps the low response may be in due to the fact the question was not citing test and other risk reducing measures; but even with that proviso I find the number not one bit consoling.

2)Is increased collaboration with suppliers or business partners an IT priority ?
With SCM-Supply Chain Management, CRM-Customer Relationship Management and RFID implementations cropping up all over the landscape, I expected this number to be substantially above 50% – the whole advantage of the Internet is being able to communicate directly with partners, key customers, suppliers, regulators, stockholders, etc. Well, not excatly. Only 37% of IT shops would admit to collaborating with partners. Hmm … not promising.

3)Is your IT division supporting business process outsourcing ?

Now with all the dire threats and the siren songs from major offshore suppliers as well as domestic consultants and ASP-Application Service providers, one would easily expect 20-40% penetration of outsourcing , especially in large firms. Again …. not exactly. Small and medium size firms will only admit to 10% of outsourcing while large firms (revenues > $1B per year) are up to 15%. So outsourcing is still not taking hold – though the switch, we are told by Gartner and Gang, is inevitably coming although to what extent is still not settled. Maybe the prospect of killing the golden goose, a prosperous middle class, or losing all propspects of gaining a distinct competitive advantage by internal technology innovation is causing some second thoughts…. okay, we are allowed one fairy-tale delusion per year.

4)Is keeping up with the pace of change among your companys business priorities ?
Okay you have gotten my drift – and sure enough only 47% of IT shops will admit to even trying to keep pace with change. My question – why hide the fact ? Change is driving business these days – so do not ignore it.

FinallyIt should come as no surprise then that only 42% of companys said that they were trying to improve business agility. Again, this result could depend and turn on a misconception of what agility realy means. But having taken the previous 4 questions and ones like it, I suspect that IT shops knew what Information Week was getting at.

So what does this mean ? It suggests that IT shops not as forward thinking as vendors and consultants would have you believe. Also it could imply a lot more risk aversion, especially after 3-4 years of cutbacks, in IT shops. Whatever, the final reading IT vendors would do well to measure this and incorporate the results into the product development and marketing plans.

(c)JBSurveyer 2005