Most UK companies are unaware of the financial value IT systems provide to their business, because only a fifth attempt to quantify the contribution they make, according to a study by software house Micro Focus.
And fewer than half of chief information officers or financial officers in the UK, US, France, Germany and Italy even calculate the value of their IT assets.
It means that IT assets are being treated differently from other assets that are regularly measured by large companies, such as cash, brand, property and intellectual property.
The revelations come from a Micro Focus survey of CIOs and CFOs in 250 businesses, with revenues between $100 million and $1 billion.
The survey also found that IT bosses are more to blame for the problem than financial chiefs. Only 37 percent of CIOs attempted to calculate the financial value of IT assets, compared with 60 percent of CFOs.
The finding that only 20 percent of UK businesses are calculating the value IT brings to their operations, puts the country in last place among the five countries surveyed, alongside Italy, and well behind the US, where half of companies professed to make such an estimate. The UK also lagged in its knowledge of software assets, with only 12 percent of firms aware of the size of their software assets, a long way behind Germany, which topped the table with 60 percent.
Stephen Kelly, chief executive at Micro Focus, said it was surprising how little was known by businesses about their IT systems. "If organisations do not know the cost and value of IT assets, then they must be severely challenged to make the right IT investment decisions," he said.
Micro Focus has commissioned business school INSEAD to investigate approaches to calculating the value of legacy IT assets. The report is expected next month.