UK slower to begin ‘innovative IT’ than neighbours, suggests study

UK IT departments spend just 8% of time on innovation; the least amount of time in Europe finds Claranet

Research by managed services provider Claranet has revealed that UK IT departments are spending less time than their European colleagues on innovation instead, demonstrating a preference for operational projects and maintenance tasks. This indicates that the UK is at risk of falling behind its European counterparts, most of whom are embracing innovative IT practices on a much larger scale, say the firm.

Vanson Bourne surveyed 900 IT leaders and decision makers across the six European countries in which Claranet operates – the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and the Benelux nations. The survey results have shown that UK IT leaders devote just 8 percent of their time to innovation, compared to an average of 11 per cent across all the countries polled.

The UK figure is well behind Benelux and France, spending 12 percent and 13 percent of their time respectively. In addition, IT departments in the UK are responsible for driving the least amount of innovation in their respective organisations, at just 34 percent. This is compared to 43 percent in France and 44 percent in Spain.

“Culture of Inertia”

This data suggests that a “culture of inertia” has been allowed to develop in IT departments in the UK, in which IT managers have become more concerned with keeping the lights on, rather than finding ways in which they can add value to their businesses.

Claranet CIO, Andy Wilton, commented: “Given the workloads that IT departments have to cope with, it is understandable to an extent that decision makers might choose to focus on running a tight ship rather than taking a step or two into the unknown. However, innovation across all aspects of a business is crucial to maintaining competitive advantage, and IT departments should not be exempt from this.”

He feels the UK’s European neighbours are ahead of the curve and believes it’s vital that IT departments prioritise closing this gap before it’s too late. To help address this imbalance between the UK and the continent, Wilton believes IT departments should focus on being less inward-looking in their approach, and look to how more innovative companies are leveraging technology and business practices to help position their entire business more favourably in the market. Making the most of the expertise and fresh approach offered by external IT service providers, he says, can give departments a much greater deal of flexibility when it comes to choosing solutions that work best for their individual needs.

“The statistics should serve as a stern warning to IT departments across the UK: bring innovation to the top of the agenda, or risk being left behind.”