Ways in whichrespondents help to formulate company's IT strategy
In this section respondents were asked in what way do they help toformulate their company's IT strategy, respondents were only prompted if they could notprovide any answers.

Identify needs, Influence the decision
Even though its relative importance varies by country as illustrated in Figure 11, overall, "identify needs" is still the most common way in which respondents help to formulate IT strategy. In Spain, France and Italy in particular, it is perceived as the largest part of the respondents' function with regard to formulation of IT strategy.

Figure 11.   Ways in which respondents help to formulate company's IT strategy

A marginally greater number of distributors than manufacturers see themselves as involved in "identifying needs" and unsurprisingly, a slightly greater percentage of the small and medium revenue respondents see themselves as having input into the formulation of IT strategy. However, almost twice the proportion of large turnover respondents (40%) see themselves as the "decision maker", indicating that the respondents interviewed from this revenue group are more senior than those interviewed from the smaller sized groups.

"Influence the decision" implies a strong involvement in formulating IT strategy. This is more likely to be the case in Spain compared to other countries. It is also becomes more prevalent in distributors.


Decision maker, Shortlist/evaluate/recommend solution
"Decision making" by respondents is very common in the US, whereas in Italy and Germany it is much less common. Surprisingly, respondents in the US are much more inclined to do this (68%), than either "influence the decision" (47%) or "shortlist" (55%). This suggests that US respondents are presented with the optimal solution and have the final say.

Figure 12.   Ways in which respondents help to formulate company's IT strategy

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"Shortlist/evaluate/recommend solution" is most common in Spain, in line with their greater likelihood to "influence the decision", though not as a "decision maker". Between 27% and 44% of all respondents regardless of supplier category carry out "shortlisting".


Areas of business where strategic IT investments are being made
Respondents were asked in which areas of their business strategic IT are investments being made. The top four areas identified were mentioned in similar proportions overall. Yet, large variances by country can be seen in Figure 13. It shows that strategic IT investments are being made in many key areas of the business. Spain, US, Germany and Italy have more respondents making IT investments in a greater number of areas of their business. UK suppliers appear to be less strategic in IT investing across a wider spectrum of areas rather than focusing on the main categories. Given the high level of investment that appears to be being concentrated in these top five areas by all the other countries surveyed, the relatively flat spread in the UK - and particularly in the areas of management information and customer service - should be of concern, particularly in an environment where control, supply chain integration and speed of response are seen to be key success strategies.

"Logistics" is a key area of investment for Spain and Germany, in particular. As expected, this is much more apparent among distributors (80%) than manufacturers (56%). "Finance" is an important area of investment for Italy and Spain, although there is no particular difference in the perception by supplier category or size of company turnover.

"Management information" is another crucial area for Spain as well as Germany and the US. This area is being targeted particularly by the larger companies (81%), as well as by distributors (80%). The low level of importance given to this issue in the UK and France is of concern, especially given the wide differential between these and the other countries. It is unlikely that management information is already more widely available in these countries than others, and suggests that this should be an area of focus for companies in these countries.

"Customer service" is a key area of investment for German and Spanish suppliers (88% of respondents indicating investment for both) but is again a neglected area among UK and French companies (18% and 26% respectively). Given the importance placed on issues such as speed of response to sales inquiries, flexibility and supply chain integration, it is surprising to see such a low level of emphasis placed on this area.

"Manufacturing" has a solid base of investment across all countries and sectors, with little variation between them (on average 55% of respondents indicated that strategic IT investment is being made in manufacturing).

Figure 13.   Areas of business where strategic IT investments are being made



The 1998 Apparel and Footwear Industries survey was carried out by mulitple research agencies co-ordinated by Benchmark Research on behalf of JBA.  This survey has been written in conjunction with Simon Shepheard-Walwyn of Kurt Salmon Associates (KSA), and Rob Jennings and Michael Pearl of JBA's apparel, footwear business unit.