A new report commissioned by 3Com Corp here in the UK paints a pretty bleak picture of the degree of communication between network managers and their board-level bosses. The survey gauged the opinions of 100 network managers and 50 directors in British multinational companies. On the one hand it discovered that data communications strategies have […]
A new report commissioned by 3Com Corp here in the UK paints a pretty bleak picture of the degree of communication between network managers and their board-level bosses. The survey gauged the opinions of 100 network managers and 50 directors in British multinational companies. On the one hand it discovered that data communications strategies have now become the subject of board meetings. On the other it found that directors are woefully unaware of what their network managers actually do. When asked who has responsibility for planning their strategic data networks, 47% of board directors said the data processing manager and 11% said the managing director. Precisely none mentioned the network manager or an information technology director. Not surprisingly, the network managers saw it a little differently: 58% said that they were responsible for planning strategic networks. The survey was carried out by Business Market Services Ltd for 3Com in the UK and while the tiny sample means that it cannot be used as much other than a debating point its findings seem to show a certain mistrust of the techies by the board. This is explained on one level by the board’s reluctance to leave network planning up to the network managers and at another by the question which asks whether their organisations received value for money from their European data communications network. Yes said 81% of network managers. No said 52% of the directors, and added comments such as appallingly expensive and users make far too much unnecessary use of the network, putting the cost up and wasting resources! The survey also has things to say about particular types of technology: video-conferencing for one, where both networkers and directors tended to agree more. The most surprising finding is that only two directors said that lack of personal contact would be an impediment – good news for vendors worried that the social aspects would limit the technology’s take up. Despite that, only some 50% of respondents said that videoconferencing usage would increase. Why? Cost mainly, with both groups citing the cost of bandwidth and equipment. It seems, says the report that many users remain unaware of personal computer-based videoconferencing.
Videoconferencing is also special in that most of the arguments against the technology come from the network managers, many of whom apparently described it as a toy, a luxury and a gimmick. Network managers also anticipate more antipathy from the board than appears warranted on the assumption that Our executives would far rather have a meeting in Paris than in Bromley. But perhaps the most surprising aspect of the report is the way that Electronic Data Interchange has failed to penetrate the users’ consciousness. For years EDI, with its ability to automate the sales transactions between companies has been held out as the way to get competitive edge. And yet only 23% of board directors said that they had a formal European Electronic Data Interchange strategy. It may have taken off domestically, but cross-border trading is clearly another matter. Another 17% said that they have one under development.