February 28, 2008 7:54 AM PST

Europe, U.S. lead rise in IT governance efforts

More businesses across the globe are stepping up their IT governance efforts, with North America and Europe leading the way, according to a study.

The "IT Governance Global Status Report 2008" claims that 34 percent of respondents, compared to 19 percent in 2005, are implementing practices that address IT governance--an organization's management, from the boardroom on down, of the performance and security of its IT system. Commissioned by the IT Governance Institute (ITGI) and conducted every two years, the study surveyed about 750 C-level executives from 23 countries between July and October last year.

The survey also determined that 24 percent of companies are considering plans to introduce IT governance practices, compared to 22 percent in 2005 and 18 percent in 2003. In addition, only 20 percent said their organisations were not considering implementing such practices, compared to 36 percent in 2005 and 42 percent in 2003.

By region, North America and Europe have the highest adoption of IT governance initiatives globally, with 50 percent of respondents from each of these two regions indicating that they have already implemented, or are in the process of implementing, such processes and practices. Forty-four percent of executives from Asia and 27 percent of South American respondents reported similar plans.

"The bottom line is that many organizations around the world are needlessly sacrificing money, productivity, and competitive advantage by not implementing effective IT governance," said Lynn Lawton, international president of ITGI. "Well-governed enterprises have been shown to provide better returns to stakeholders, and the same goes for governance over information technology."

"Executives need to direct their IT for optimal advantage, manage IT-related risks, and measure the value provided by IT," Lawton added.

The survey also found that the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), with the ISO 20000 standard, is used by 24 percent of organizations polled and is the preferred framework associated with IT governance. The ISO 20000 covers the IT service management aspects under Itil.

The ITGI-developed "Control objectives for information and related technology" framework, on the other hand, has doubled its user base. In addition, over 50 percent of respondents indicated they were aware of the framework, compared to 27 percent two years ago.

With regards to leading IT governance projects, the chief information officer was identified as the ideal champion by the majority of respondents (40 percent). Some 25 percent said the chief executive should be in charge, while the next-most-frequently cited roles for heading IT governance were the chief financial officer and IT manager.

Compared to the 2005 survey, more respondents were able to identify organizations which can help their companies implement IT governance. Large IT services providers or consultancy companies were the most frequently cited, followed by audit firms and smaller, niche IT players.

Vivian Yeo of ZDNet Asia reported from Singapore.

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