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IBM: less than 10% of organisations believe legacy IT can address mobile, cloud, big data and social media boom

Fewer than 10% of global businesses believe their legacy IT systems are suited to harnessing the potential of innovative digital technologies, according to preliminary results from an IBM study.

IBM surveyed 750 technology executives, including chief technology officers and chief information officers, based in 18 countries and working across 19 different industries.

It found that 70% of respondents acknowledge IT infrastructure plays "an important role" in providing for businesses' competitive advantage or boosting turnover and profits, but that less than one in 10 organisations felt their own existing IT infrastructure was ready to "address the proliferation of mobile devices, social media, data analytics and cloud computing".

More than half of the organisations represented in the survey (62%) will increase their spending on IT infrastructure in the next year to 18 months, IBM reported, although just 22% of respondents said that their business has "a well-defined enterprise IT infrastructure strategy roadmap".

IBM said that almost half of those surveyed (46%) had admitted that their organisations faces challenges in "efficiently and securely" transferring large quantities of data across the world, whilst 43% said that maintaining the security of their systems was a challenge. In addition, 43% of respondents said they are constrained in their ability to cut costs and improve the efficiencies of their data storage arrangements.

IBM said it would publish the full results of its study in July.

IT contracts specialist Clare Murray of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: "It is no surprise that organisations feel exposed given the rapid pace of technological change and the disruption in and convergence of many traditional markets."

"It is easy for organisations to be drawn in by the potential cost savings available by buying commoditised digital solutions, such big data analytics tools and cloud services, from a range of different suppliers. However, organisations must ensure that they are structured to take advantage of these standardised solutions otherwise they are likely to need the technology to be tailored to their needs, adding cost and complexity," Murray said. "Becoming a digital enterprise and becoming flexible enough to compete in what is a fast-moving business environment requires organisations to have a robust digital strategy."

"A good digital strategy is likely to involve investment in IT, with a mix between investment in legacy systems and procuring new digital solutions. As a starting point, businesses must evaluate whether it is possible to transform their business using existing technology at their disposal. It is important for businesses to identify which systems are core, which are flexible and which are disposable as part of this process, and to then review the underlying contractual arrangements with suppliers," she said.

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