New Enterprise Systems Survey Says Yanks, Brits Do More than Speak Same Language

Dennis Byron

According to a recent Accenture (NYSE: ACN) survey, Brits are more conservative than Yanks when it comes to enterprise IT. That's probably more of a cultural/heritage statement than a major difference between the two large English-speaking countries when it comes to IT.


It does not appear that the differences are statistically significant. However, a finding that 43 percent of North American IT executives "strongly agree" that enterprise systems contribute to their organization's competitive advantage and strategic value vs. only 27 % of comparable UK execs with that opinion begins to show some potentially meaningful divergence.


And my apologies to that great group north of the 45th parallel that has to straddle Yank vs. Brit personality issues. There were certainly some Canadians included in the North American sample, but that would have made my headline too long.


Accenture interviewed 150 C-level, director and managerial level IT folks each in both North America and the UK. In a press release, the company said that both telephone and online sampling was done; it is not clear if a different technique was used in each geography or if a mix was used in both. The answer to that question could account for any differences, or in fact could mask some more major differences.


But assuming consistency in methodology, in aggregate the organizations report they only use 64 percent of their enterprise system's functionality. About half of respondents who do not use full system capability say it's because they "don't need all capabilities," hinting at the crux of the shelfware problem we hear so much about. On the other hand, 20 percent report each of the following: they don't know how to use all functions; they lack time to learn new functions; they don't have budget for training; or they don't have sufficient budget to use all functions. There were no regional differences in these findings.


The most interesting findings, which you can interpret one of two ways depending on whether you're a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty personality, is that a vast majority (81 percent) of companies haven't fully integrated with customer and supplier systems. That's actually not surprising since the supply chain automation movement is only a little more than 10 years old.


In fact, it's surprising that the respondents are not connecting that dot (uptake in supply chain automation IT is slow but steady over time) when they say that over the longer term (8-10 years), 53 percent of current enterprise systems will be replaced by new technologies. Maybe Accenture just lucked in randomly to a lot of IT shops that constantly churn their technology base but keep it all inside the firewall. No COBOL spaghetti code for these guys.

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