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World-class IT executives reach better results by shifting spending and priorities away from technology infrastructure and toward application management, software and other areas, according to the IT Book of Numbers from The Hackett Group, a business process advisory firm.

Hackett found world-class IT executives spend 18 percent less than their typical peers and operate with 36 percent fewer staff members, while bringing in projects on time and below budget more than 30 percent of the time. Business benefits include increasing the automation of a vast amount of routine transactions, offering operational efficiency and freeing more time to focus on more value-added activities, such as application management and making different transactions electronically.

World-class IT executives achieve these results by spending 23 percent less than typical companies on process costs in technology infrastructure and dedicate 58 percent fewer staffers to it. The research also found that world-class IT executives spend $1,686 in total technology infrastructure process costs (labor and outsourcing) per user, while their peers spend $2,183 per user.

World-class organizations offer only 9.2 full-time IT staffers per 1,000 users, compared to 21.7 staffers for peer companies—a 58 percent difference.

World-class IT executives dedicate 53 percent of their internal staff to application management, compared to 38 percent for peers. Meanwhile, peer companies dedicate 49 percent of their staff to technology infrastructure; world-class companies allot only 33 percent of their staff.

According to Hackett, world-class IT executives shell out 20 percent more on software licenses than their peers, while they spend 31 percent less on voice and data technology than peer companies. Hackett attributes the spending discrepancies to world-class IT executives spending wisely when it matters, specifically on standardization across hardware, networking and software, governance and more software for their business. They rely on 29 percent fewer applications per 1,000 users and 29 percent fewer data centers.