Many enterprises are failing to fully exploit their enterprise resource planning (ERP) hardware investments, according to a new report from Accenture.
At least a third of enterprise systems are being underused in the UK and North America, the consultancy said, meaning that firms are missing out on important data-sharing benefits. Accenture said that firms in the UK were performing the worst.
A survey of 300 high-level senior IT professionals from large firms in the UK and US found that organisations were currently using only 64 per cent of their enterprise system's core functions, while 37 per cent of UK companies and 27 per cent North American companies had "little or no data sharing with their customers".
UK businesses were also less adventurous than their US peers, choosing to remain sceptical about technologies such as Web 2.0 and service-oriented architectures. While 15 per cent of US respondents said that emerging technologies would replace almost all of their current enterprise systems, only seven per cent in the UK agreed.
"Part of the challenge is that organisations can take a traditional view of ERP and sometimes see such systems as monolithic and inflexible, rather than understanding that the more mature and agile software that exists today can enable companies not only to manage core business processes, but actively distinguish themselves from competitors," said Jeremy Oates, UK head of systems integration and technology consulting at Accenture.
"Subsequent utilisation of enterprise systems and the core capabilities that are available to the business is often overlooked, due to a lack of skilled resources and alignment between IT and the business across departments.
"No matter how good the ERP system is, the organisation will be in for a rough ride if it lacks the presence of strong business sponsorship to 'inflict' the necessary changes on the users."
Over half of the respondents felt that they did not need all of the capabilities of the IT systems they had invested in, while a fifth simply did not have the time to learn to use them. Under a third said they applied the technology across the whole business, while around a fifth linked their own systems with their customers'.
When it comes to newer technologies, including Web 2.0, Accenture found that almost two-thirds of respondents expected to see their adoption having a positive impact, while about the same share were already using SaaS technologies in some form.
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