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Business Leaders Look to Collaborate in Effort to Drive Competitive Advantage

21st November 2013

New Research From SunGard Identifies the Drivers Behind Management Alignment as Confidence in Growth Prospects Rises

Dublin, Ireland – 21 November, 2013: SunGard Availability Services, the pioneer and leading provider of Information Availability solutions, today reveals the shifting attention of business leaders, away from cost-cutting to driving innovation and growth. 79% of Irish business decision makers believe closer alignment between individual business departments and the IT function will yield a competitive advantage, with technology-led innovation (52%), being prioritised above a reduction in costs (49%). In addition, respondents believe greater efficiency (48%) and organisational flexibility (44%) could be achieved.

The study of 550 C-level and senior business decision makers, from organisations with more than 250 employees across Ireland, the UK, France and Sweden highlights the rise in business confidence as organisational mind-set shifts in an attempt to drive new revenue opportunities, with technology seen as the catalyst for this change.

“After several tough years, business leaders are recognising that the market is on the up and are adjusting priorities in light of this opportunity”, comments Keith Tilley, Executive Vice President, EMEA & APAC, SunGard Availability Services. “We’re seeing a welcome movement away from bottom-line barriers, as collaboration, innovation, efficiency and flexibility become the focal points for supporting business expansion.”

In an indication of the broader health of the respective markets, the research found that, across the regions, Ireland and France remained the most focussed on cost-cutting, with 52% and 49% of respondents prioritising this against a European average of 42% . Interesting splits also emerged in the levels of integration between the CIO and respective teams. All of the finance and marketing teams in Ireland and Sweden, for example, believe they work closely and effectively with the CIO, suggesting the greatest departmental cohesion can be found in these regions.

The report also highlights the departmental relationships that are currently shaping organisational growth. Within Ireland, the closest relationship with regards to achieving business growth and enterprise availability* was found to be between the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and the finance department: 100% of the latter believe they work closely with the former to deliver this. What’s more, well over a third half (38%) of  finance directors in Ireland recognise that CIOs should receive more resources to help them deliver further value for the business – an opinion most strongly felt in Europe amongst French respondents (69%).

The study reveals business leaders have become more conscious of the public perception of their company and their role within it. 81% of respondents in Ireland feel increased accountability under the external pressures of customer satisfaction, partner relations and supply chain issues.

The alignment between the CIO and other senior business decision makers is where the real contrast emerges between the regions. While the UK was by far the highest in terms of CMOs believing that CIOs should be on the senior leadership team, none of the French finance or marketing executives believe this should be the case. CIOs in Ireland appear to be supported by the finance teams (62%) and HR (63% above those respondents from marketing (44%) .

Behind the scenes, business availability and resilience are seen as crucial to supporting growth and maintaining corporate reputation. In Ireland, three years ago, just 14% of the board and senior management team considered building an ‘always on’ business to meet 24/7 customer and employee demands as important, a percentage which has now risen to 45% under current pressures. CIOs, in particular, recognise the role business availability plays, as more than double the number of IT decision markers now consider having an ‘Available Enterprise’ as critical to business success (an increase from 20% to 53% over the past three years). The biggest jump amongst the countries was in Sweden, which saw a considerable increase from 23% to 68% over the past three years.

“As companies position themselves for growth, they need to continue to keep the lights on to ensure the resilience of everyday operations isn’t lost,” concludes Tilley. “Here is where a trusted technology partner can offer real assistance, and business leaders recognise this. In Ireland over half cite an external partner as crucial to managing complex IT estates (58%) and improving security / compliance (54%), as companies look to capitalise on the opportunities today’s market is providing.”

The following table represents the responses from interviewees around their department’s initiatives against the capabilities of the IT department and the benefits they would expect to see as a result:

 

Ireland

UK

France

Sweden

% of respondents who believe aligning initiatives with the IT dept. will yield a competitive advantage

79%

97%

94%

87%

% that expect to see increase in efficiency as a result

48%

69%

65%

60%

% that expect to see technology-led innovation as a result

52%

54%

53%

47%

% that expect to see increase in organisational flexibility as a result

44%

51%

28%

53%

% that would expect to see a reduction on costs

49%

37%

52%

41%

The following table reveals the percentage of business leader who work with the CIO to deliver business growth and enterprise availability:

 

Ireland

UK

France

Sweden

Finance

100%

96%

95%

100%

Marketing

100%

96%

100%

100%

HR

100%

90%

90%

80%

The following table reveals responses from business leaders when asked whether external demands (i.e. customers, partners, supply-chain), for round-the-clock availability has increased the pressure on their role:

 

Ireland

UK

France

Sweden

% of respondents increasingly conscious of the public perception of our company and their role within it

26%

26%

14%

21%

% of respondents that feel an increasingly vocal employee and customer voice means they feel more exposed in their role

21%

36%

54%

32%

% of respondents that feel increasing awareness of loss of service availability means they are one step away from losing a customer

34%

28%

28%

29%

% that don’t feel any increased accountability in my role due to external pressures

19%

10%

4%

18%

*Availability is defined here as: Enterprise availability for any organisation means that its people, data and processes, and the infrastructure that connects them, are all accessible as required to support the business. It is about keeping people and information connected.


About the research

Interviews were carried out in September – October 2013 by Vanson Bourne on behalf of SunGard Availability Services. 550 interviews were conducted altogether: 250 from the UK, and 100 in each of Ireland, France and Sweden. Four audiences were surveyed: IT decision makers (220), finance decision makers (110), marketing decision makers (110), and HR decision makers (110).