IT departments have finally achieved the lofty status that their marketing and purchasing equivalents have enjoyed for years in UK business.
According to a survey published last week by marketing and research group Banner, it is now more likely than ever that a company has its own IT department. The survey also revealed that IT departments for the first time are making the majority of computer purchasing decisions. Previously, such decisions were taken by central management.
Almost all companies with 500 or more employees (92%) have an IT department, compared with 87% in 1996. The figure for medium-sized companies (50-199 employees) was 75%, compared to 66% last year.
The achievement of departmental status for IT in UK businesses coincides with a drop in the total number of people who actually make IT purchasing decisions. For example, in large companies, there are now only 93,552 decision makers compared with 106,163 the year before.
Joanna Bryant, research director at Banner, commented: "The leap in the number of companies with an IT department can most easily be put down to the increased importance of IT to all businesses. The concentration of IT purchasing with IT professionals reflects the increased complexity of making decisions in this area. For example, when laptops are chosen for the sales department they will probably have to do much more than run a particular spreadsheet or presentation package. They must also be able to network with other computers and access the Internet.
"Put simply, the days of the personnel department picking a PC because of the colour are over."
The survey also found that there has been a slower than expected uptake amongst small businesses of computer technology over the past year. With the use of PCs in larger corporations reaching saturation point and competition getting tougher, many manufacturers and software houses have been looking to increase their revenue by targeting small businesses. Of the 1,835 small companies which took part in the survey, only 39% have a PC.
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