Share poll: Sarbanes-Oxley seen as biggest IT time waster

Use of unproven or unneeded technologies also cited

BOSTON -- IBM users expect compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act rules governing U.S. public companies to prove to be the least effective or the most wasteful use of their IT resources, according to the results of an online poll of Share members released late yesterday.

From Aug. 4 to 15, Share, the oldest independent IBM user group, polled individuals who were preregistering for its Boston conference, which runs through Friday. The organization, which is celebrating its 50th birthday this month, received 444 responses to a short online survey containing five questions.

One of the questions asked respondents to imagine looking back at 2005 from the year 2015 and then identify what they thought would prove to have been either an ineffective or wasteful use of their IT time. Twenty-eight percent of the respondents cited Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, followed by deployment of unproven technologies (23%), purchase of unneeded technologies (19%), and continuing support for outdated technologies (17%). The fifth-rated bugbear, cited by 10% of respondents, was external consultants, with software upgrades only distressing 1% of those polled.

Share President Robert Rosen said he wasn't surprised that Sarbanes-Oxley is proving to be a major headache. "It's occupying a lot of people's time, and they can't figure out what the return on investment is there," he said.

Rosen is hearing that some smaller companies are talking to their venture capitalists and looking to return their businesses to private operations specifically because they can't afford to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley rules. "It's the law of unintended consequences," he said.

Information security is the dominant emerging trend most likely to affect business computing over the next five years, according to 31% of those answering the Share survey. Two other significant trends identified in the poll are the shortage of qualified enterprise-class IT professionals (cited by 17% of respondents) and the outsourcing or offshoring of application development and maintenance (14%).

Not surprisingly, the one technological innovation respondents rate as having had the most significant impact on business computing over the past 50 years is the Internet, followed by PCs, IBM's System/360 (S/360) mainframe, which debuted in 1964, and the World Wide Web.

Turning to IBM specifically, respondents named the company's DB2 Universal Database as the company's most significant offering over the past 25 years, followed by CICS, MVS and z/OS. The IBM PC was in fifth position, followed by the company's WebSphere software. Users have responded positively to DB2 Universal Database because they can run the software on lower-cost servers as well as mainframes, Rosen said.

The final question asked which three of a list of individuals had the greatest impact on business computing over the past half century. Microsoft Corp.'s Bill Gates was No. 1 (cited by 55% of the respondents), followed by IBM founder Thomas J. Watson (40%) and Gene Amdahl (39%), the chief architect of IBM's S/360 mainframe.

In sixth place, with votes from 19% of the respondents, was Grace Hopper, who developed the first compiler for a computer programming language. Rosen also noted that Hopper has an anecdotal claim to fame. He said she is reputed to have coined the term bug when she was dealing with a computer system that wasn't functioning properly because of an actual bug, a moth, logged in the machinery.

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