A new survey released today has found almost half of European IT managers admit that a lack of IT process integration limits their ability to compete.

At the Gartner Application Integration and Web Services Summit, AT&T subsidiary and supply chain software provider Sterling Commerce, announced the results of a European survey of 374 IT managers in the UK, France and Germany. The survey, conducted by independent research company Vanson Bourne, found that almost half (44%) of IT managers believe that a lack of IT process integration is limiting their businesses’ ability to compete at a global level.

Despite the fact that almost three quarters (73%) of European IT managers face a more complex global supply chain than they did three years ago, the survey suggests that many companies are struggling to address the integration challenges of globalised business.

A third of IT managers surveyed stated that their company operates separate IT systems for each internal business unit or division. The research highlights that, despite this reliance upon separate systems, over a quarter of IT managers have not integrated effective process integration across the internal IT systems of their company’s global operations, regional offices and various lines of business.

The survey also revealed that many businesses are also struggling to integrate the IT systems of external supply chain partners. More than a third (38%) of IT managers believe that their companies have not yet implemented effective process integration with external suppliers, customers and trading partners.

Chris Hayes, senior product marketing manager for Sterling Commerce, said: “The integration challenges revealed by this survey reflect companies’ desire to continue to exploit the value of their existing IT systems, but this needs to be done in a manner which delivers the adaptability necessary to handle ongoing business change and future business growth.”

He said to deliver this flexibility across heterogeneous IT systems and gain maximum return on their IT assets, many companies are turning to a service oriented architecture (SOA) approach. Gartner projects that “through 2008, more than 70% of the services in an organisation's portfolio will be derived from existing assets”.