Stuck in the IT Slow Lane

Michael Vizard

This may come as cold comfort to a lot of people who have always suspected as much, but a survey released today by Progress Software finds that 72 percent of about 400 organizations in the U.S. and Western Europe think their business processes are too slow.

More telling, perhaps, is that 58 percent of the people surveyed by the research firm Vanson Bourne admit that there are significant gaps in the information they use to support decision making.

Of course, Progress Software has a vested interest in these survey results because it sells application development platforms designed to process events in real time. But the results nevertheless do serve to highlight the growing gap between an IT organization that too often still thinks in terms of processing things in batches, and business people that are increasingly required to make decisions in a matter of minutes.

This gap is creating a lot more interest in developing IT infrastructure that better reflects a new business reality. As a result, it's not surprising to find that 94 percent of the companies surveyed think that being able to access information in real time is important, and that 82 percent of them plan to invest in technologies that will help make that happen. Most of those technologies have typically been associated with the financial services sector, but it's pretty apparent that retailers, health care providers and a host of other industries are all being asked to operate at the speed of light.

Naturally, business people will also demand highly flexible IT systems that can change as rapidly as the business processes they support, which increasingly are changing on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.

Fortunately, not everything needs to be accomplished in under a second. But clearly something major is starting to happen in terms of what business people expect IT to be able to do. And given the fact that perception is often reality, a lot of IT organizations are going to be under a lot of pressure to keep up with companies that are now doing business at the speed of light.

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