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Consumerisation concerns are overrated, says EIU

Businesses seem to be embracing consumer technology

Consumerisation is not as big a concern for businesses as previously thought, research from the Economist Intelligent Unit has revealed.

A belief exists that CIOs are often worried that consumerisation of business technology is making employees expect more from the business than it can deliver.

However, these fears are 'overrated', according to the EIU's report, 'Great expectations or misplaced hopes? Perceptions of business technology in the 21st century', which was commissioned by HP.

Although 60 percent of respondents believe that there is a technology knowledge gap between the organisation and employees, and that this is widening, the respondents still rated senior management (51 percent) in their firms as a more knowledgeable about technology than line employees (43 percent), which included the tech-savvy 'Generation Y'.

Furthermore, the majority of respondents (66 percent) did not believe that a growing technology knowledge gap between senior management and employees was causing serious problems to their businesses.

"There are technology knowledge gaps [but] the significance of it is overrated," said Denis McCauley, director of global technology research at the EIU.

"Generation Y are very knowledgeable about devices, but perhaps less so with good technology practices in business."

Indeed, the research found that firms with senior management who are strong in IT are ten times more likely to be 'high performers', that is, achieving 20 percent or more profit growth.

The EIU surveyed 508 senior people in large and small companies across EMEA, in 20 different industries. A quarter of respondents were in IT.

It also carried out in-depth interviews with CIOs including Paul Coby, IT director at retailer John Lewis, Julian Gray, CIO at BP Alternative Energy and Jane Scott, VP IT at oilfield services company Baker Hughes.

McCauley said the most surprising finding from the study was that 84 percent of respondents said that their technology investments had helped to improve operating efficiency, followed by 78 percent who said they had helped to reduce costs.

This implied that the public sector technology project disasters that make the headlines, such as the NHS's failed National Programme for IT (NPfIT) were misleading, he said.

"[Technology investment] failures make the news, but in reality, most IT investments are positive," McCauley said.

But he added: "However, it does not translate into 'IT is great'."

Despite this caveat, the study found that companies look mainly to the CIO and the IT department to drive innovation in the business, today (45 percent) and in three years' time (42 percent). This is compared to just 25 percent who expect innovation to originate in R&D today, which increases slightly to 28 percent three years from now.

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