Conclusion 03

Conclusion 03: Departmental Resistance

Customer service and customer-facing departments, the ones whose processes are undergoing the most change, are the ones receiving the most attention from IT. But the sales and marketing departments, despite technical advances and the promise of increased revenue, are the most resistant to IT-enabled business process change. That may mean companies won't be able to reap the full benefit of increasing customer loyalty. As for which department is undergoing the most change, IT execs say that distinction goes to their own department.

IT DEPARTMENT: IT execs see their department as the one whose business processes are the best defined (80%), change the most regularly (about 92% saw frequent or occasional change in the past two years), change the most dramatically (radically or greatly, 71%), and are the most highly automated (extremely automated or automated, 77%). Why do IT execs place IT so highly? Possible explanations are the pressure to deliver value, cope with rapid technological change and help other functions change—along with parochialism.

CUSTOMER SERVICE: Customer service is one of the departments with which IT is most heavily involved, due perhaps to the rise of customer relationship management software. After IT, it's also the department whose processes change the most frequently, but its processes have changed radically or greatly in the past 24 months at only 45% of respondents' firms. Customer service is automated in just 49% of responding companies—this despite IT's heavy focus on the department—but this may be due to the fact that CRM is a relative newcomer.

CONSULTING/SERVICES DELIVERY: This function includes the people who touch the customer, whether it's hospital medical staff or high-powered consultants. This department has also received much attention from IT—third out of all departments—and its processes change the third most regularly, changing frequently or occasionally at 70% of respondents' companies.

MARKETING: The least automated department in the organization, and the one with the least involvement by IT, marketing could be seen as IT's problem child. But this may not be much of a surprise, since it's only recently that marketing automation offerings have appeared. Marketing is also rated as the second most difficult to support.

SALES: Despite the rise of sales automation and mobile technologies, sales ranks third from last in IT involvement, at 58%, and it's the second least automated department. Sales is also the most difficult department for IT to support. The two standout reasons that both sales and marketing rate so low: These departments' business processes aren't well-defined, and they've been uncooperative with IT.

FINANCE: Behind the IT department, finance has the most-automated processes of any department. Finance is also far more likely to be automated in successful companies—71% versus 47% in less successful firms.

HUMAN RESOURCES: Despite the long-time availability of Human Resources Information Systems, HR nearly tied for last place in terms of IT's involvement, at 58%. Its business processes also change less frequently than any other department, at 55%.

This article was originally published on 08-13-2002
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