Where is the IT innovation gap?

* Survey into users' thoughts about IT innovation

Technology innovation is a frequently discussed topic. One of the challenges in discussing technology innovation is that the phrase has a variety of meanings. For the sake of this and the subsequent newsletter, a change in technology will be deemed to be innovative if it leads to one of two results. The first result is functionality that is perceived by end users as being significantly different from what was previously available. The second result is functionality that enables the IT organization to implement a fundamental change in terms of how it deploys or manages IT.

In 2005, we conducted extensive research into whether or not there was a technology innovation gap, and if there was, in which components of IT was the innovation gap the most dramatic. As part of this research, we identified 12 key components of IT and surveyed 131 IT professionals relative to innovation in these components. As a point of reference, the 12 components of IT included functionality such as security, performance management, and WAN services.

For each component of IT, we asked these IT professionals two key questions. One questions was how important is it to your company that there is innovation in that component? The second question was how much innovation do you see in that component?

For each of these two questions we used a 7-point scale, where an answer of "1" corresponded to none or not at all, an answer of "4" indicated a moderate amount, and an answer of "7" indicated extremely significant or critically important.

For each of the 12 components of IT, we looked at the percentage of times that the survey base responded to the question about the importance of innovation in that component with a 6 or a 7. We referred to this as the Importance of Innovation for that component.

For each of the 12 components of IT, we also looked at the percentage of times that the survey base responded to the question about how much innovation they are seeing in that component with a 6 or a 7. We referred to this as the Amount of Innovation for that component.

Then for each of the 12 components of IT, we defined the Innovation Gap to be difference between the Importance of Innovation and the Amount of Innovation. The next WAN newsletter will detail the results of this research. In particular, that newsletter will identify those areas in which there is the smallest innovation gap as well as those areas in which there is the greatest innovation gap. In the meantime, you can view the research at the Webtorials Web site.

One of the topics that will be discussed on the forthcoming Network Management tour being produced by Network World is the use of innovation to create more effective network management tools. That tour will take place in New York on Feb. 23, Denver on Feb. 28, Houston on March 2, and Washington, D.C. on March 8. I hope that those of you who live near one of those cities will get a chance to attend. More details of the event can be found here.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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