Its good to be optimistic, and CIOs have some reason to be. More than 87 percent of respondents think their top executives take Sarbanes-Oxley compliance seriously, and, since executive sponsorship is the single most important success factor for any project, its not surprising that almost the same percentage of CIOs think their companies will be compliant by their deadline.
Most CIOs, however, think theyll get something more than bare compliance for their efforts, and we wonder if thats being a bit too optimistic. Almost half the CIOs who responded to the survey said their companies will do the minimum necessary to achieve compliance. Can those CIOs really get value—improvements in business processes—that they havent paid for?
CIOs cite problems with data structures, difficulties ensuring adequate security and business continuity, and variations in infrastructure between business units as three of the top four obstacles to compliance. These issues are closely related; they are the result of years of building information systems one-by-one in complex organizations, where data definitions, business rules and operating procedures are set department by department. A big company might have dozens of definitions built into its information systems for something as fundamental as a "product" or a "customer," and it might have hundreds of conflicting business rules for managing the data. For a company thats grown rapidly via mergers and acquisitions—as many have over the past decade—the problem is compounded.