Putting the "I" Back in IT

By Allan Alter  |  Posted 02-06-2006

It's time companies got as serious about information as they are about technology. A disturbing new study sponsored by Deloitte Consulting LLP, and conducted jointly with CFO Research Services, has found that the billions invested in information technology still aren't producing great information.

More than four out of five companies report that the financial and operational information they generate isn't as useful as it should be for planning and strategizing.

And nearly as many say their information is not as accurate, timely or available as they would like it to be. Because information quality isn't up to snuff, "decision-makers are forced to spend time building special reports and analyses and reconciling 'the multiple versions of the truth,' " write the report's authors. Companies are missing opportunities too: 81 percent of the 385 executives surveyed (of whom 64 percent are finance executives, and 18 percent IT executives) say timely, high-quality, easy-to-access information would increase their profits.

Technology is part of the problem—45 percent say poorly integrated systems are a major cause of these information ailments.

But even if CIOs could upgrade and integrate all their systems with one sweep of a magic wand, the problem still wouldn't be solved. A close relationship between finance and IT organizations, along with their leaders, is also a must.

Yet "there's enormous friction [between the two organizations], enormous lack of alignment, enormous viewing of IT as a silo," says Lee Dittmar, a Philadelphia-based principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP. "If the company is not deliberately going after high-quality information, why should they expect to get it accidentally?"