Despite the growing importance of technology to even make or break companies – or to at least open new opportunities – many CEOs are still unaware of the added value better co-operation with the IT department could offer.
This is according to Karen Geldenhuys, MD of Abacus Recruitment., who says: "CIOs are often ignored and simply told: 'sorry, there is no budget', and, if they happen to be lucky enough to sit on the board, their input is often viewed as of less consequence then other financially-focused decisions.
"Most companies are being led from a business or financial perspective, taking little regard of the value technology can bring by improving efficiencies and allowing new markets to be leveraged.
"Yes, cash is king – and budgets are important – but the fact is that there could be more cash and more profits if technology was better harnessed. And if CIOs and the IT departments were given more say," she says.
"Which company today could run without computers? Can you imagine staff running around with pieces of paper trying to conduct business? Why is it that almost every employee needs a computer on his desk – and needs to be linked to the company's network? It is because computers – including computer software – are the lifeblood of any company? In simple terms, they allow companies to make money."
But a 2008 survey on IT Business Balance conducted by Deloitte paints a dismal picture. While computer systems can manage business risks such as safety, fraud and privacy – as well as opening new business doors – 25% of respondents said that the main focus of strategic discussions between top management and IT is purely financial.
"Fewer than 25% believe that IT projects will significantly contribute to business growth in the next three years (i.e projects related to product innovation, take-overs, mergers and a thorough go-to-market strategy."
Forty percent of business respondents come across as being pessimistic about the success ratio of IT projects and state that one in three projects is not finished within the budget or deadline.
Interestingly, 30% of respondents state that they were never involved in IT-related incidents. The report says: "One can wonder whether this reflects the reality and whether it is not rather linked to a lack of transparency around incidents."
Geldenhuys comments: "The report certainly shows that the financial and IT departments just do not co-exist properly – as they should. This can seriously retard business growth – and business opportunities. It can also result in internal disasters, where vital financial information is literally 'handed' to competitors due to inadequate computer security, and where fraud can rampage a company without being detected. Or simply be detected too late."