A convoluted web of applications is stunting the digital transformation of the world's biggest international organisations.

A study of more than 1000 chief information officers and senior decision makers has revealed that the tangled web of apps within large organisations is getting more complex and is putting strain on the IT department.

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According to the Capgemini study, over the last three years the number of IT decision makers who believe their business has more applications than it needs has increased from 34 per cent to nearly 48 per cent.

Just 37 per cent believe the majority of their applications are mission-critical, while 73 per cent believe that at least one-fifth of their current applications share similar functionality and should be consolidated.

Further more than half of the respondents believe that at least a fifth of their applications should be retired or replaced.

Capgemini, CTO application services continental Europe, Ron Tolido, said: "On the surface, a badly organised, overloaded and out-dated applications landscape sounds like a minor irritation for the IT team, absorbing bandwidth and wasting money, but ultimately not a problem that should keep the wider business up at night," he said.

"But in a world where all facets of an organisation are starting to embrace digital transformation - and are dependent on the quick deployment of mobile, social, Big Data and Cloud solutions for competitive advantage -- a well-rationalised applications landscape suddenly becomes a much bigger, strategic imperative for the whole company." The study revealed that 60 per cent of senior IT decision makers believe their departments' most valuable contribution to the company is introducing new technologies.

The report found a significant number have already implemented Cloud (56 per cent), mobility (54 per cent), social (41 per cent) and Big Data (34 per cent) solutions.

The study also finds that while Western organisations are creaking under the strain of outdated, unused legacy applications, developing markets are benefiting from their relatively fresh, young IT landscape.

Where countries like Finland and Norway report below average levels of understanding between business and IT (just 64 per cent and 69 per cent respectively believe the relationship is 'satisfactory'), an encouraging 92 per cent of respondents in Brazil, India and China report a satisfactory understanding between the two.

Tolido said there was definitely an argument to be made that high growth markets are at a significant advantage when it comes to ensuring the applications landscape lines up with the business's goals and objectives.

"This may give them a head start in digital transformation initiatives and could represent an important competitive advantage over their Western business rivals," he said.

The findings of Capgemini's 2014 Application Landscape Report are based on a survey conducted in 12 languages with 1116 CIOs and top-level IT decision makers in companies of various sizes from a wide range of industries.

With a global emphasis, the report covers 16 countries, with 73 per cent of respondents from developed economies (Australia, Europe, USA) and a further 27 per cent from fast developing countries (Brazil, China, India).