IT Fears Derail Projects--and Success

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print
technology fears

A new study finds that pervasive fear impedes organizational and IT success, and prevents professionals from doing their job effectively.

By Samuel Greengard

Today's highly competitive business environment demands innovative thinking and the ability to take smart risks. However, new research, which was conducted by global IT research firm Vanson Bourne for cloud-based backup firm Mozy, found that many executives and organizations are consumed by a culture of fear. What's more, their risk-adverse approach has negative consequences for the enterprise.

Mozy polled 550 IT employees and 1,250 office workers across the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland and The Netherlands. Overall, 84 percent of respondents say that fear of failure permeates their workplace—and this fear diminishes the odds for personal and business success. In fact, management stops approximately 37 percent of all workplace projects due to fear.

Not surprisingly, fear manifests itself on a number of levels. Two-thirds (68 percent) of respondents admitted that irrational fears prevent them from doing their job effectively.

In addition, 58 percent believe that the fear within organizations originates from management. Fifty-seven percent of IT decision-makers believe that company management is most fearful of new technology implementations, and 55 percent stated that their company views the adoption of technology as a risk.

"Business and technology leaders need to be enablers, not roadblocks, if they want their companies to succeed in difficult economic circumstances," notes Gytis Barzdukas, senior director of product management at Mozy. "A little healthy skepticism about activities that could be hazardous—and a desire to not make errors—is good sense, but when that becomes an inhibiting fear or a dogged refusal to embrace new things in spite of good evidence for adopting change, then it becomes an issue."

IT departments and technology limitations are other key factors. A majority of respondents (52 percent) reported that rules established by their IT departments hinder their ability to perform tasks due to limitations imposed on them. Moreover, 24 percent of the ideas designed to improve the business are delayed so long by IT that they ultimately fail to deliver results. The best way to alleviate fear, respondents said, is to measure results and demonstrate a return on investment.

Finally, the study found that buzzwords influence thinking. For example, "cloud" was the second worst buzzword to add to a budget request two years ago, with about one-third of IT managers saying that company executives viewed the term negatively. At present, nearly twice as many respondents say that describing a project as cloud-based helps to obtain funding (39 percent) rather than hindering (21 percent) their bid.

In the end, a reset of the enterprise mindset is paramount. "Irrational fears associated with innovation, collaboration and using new technology like cloud services hold back success," Barzdukas points out. Rejecting a project "based on preconceptions and buzzwords" short-circuits both innovation and bottom-line results. "To succeed, businesses need to look at the actual benefits and risks of innovation, and stay up to speed with new developments that make adoption safer."

This article was originally published on 2013-07-16

Samuel Greengard is a contributing writer for Baseline.

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