The Sarbanes-Oxley rules will be the biggest waste of IT resources for public companies this year, according to a poll of 444 US companies by IBM user group Share.

Share polled those who were pre-registering for its Boston conference and asked people to imagine themselves transported to 2015 and looking back at 2005, and asked what they thought in retrospect would prove to be either an ineffective or wasteful use of their IT time.
A hefty 28 percent said Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, followed by deployment of unproven technologies (23 percent), purchase of unneeded technologies (19 percent), and continuing support for outdated technologies (17 percent). The fifth-rated bugbear cited by 10 percent of respondents was external consultants, with software upgrades only distressing one percent of those polled.

Robert Rosen, the current president of Share, wasn't surprised that Sarbanes-Oxley is proving to be a major headache. "It's occupying a lot of people's time and they can't figure out what the return on investment is there," he said.

Rosen is hearing that some smaller firms are talking to their venture capitalists and looking to return their businesses to private operations specifically because they can't afford to comply with the Sarbannes-Oxley rules. "It's the law of unintended consequences," he said.

Information security is the dominant emerging trend most likely to impact business computing over the next five years, according to 31 percent of those answering the Share survey. Two other significant trends cited by respondents are the shortage of qualified enterprise-class IT professionals (17 percent) and the outsourcing or offshoring of application development and maintenance (14 percent).

Not surprisingly, the one technological innovation respondents rate as having had the most significant impact on business computing over the past 50 years is the Internet, followed by PCs, IBM's System/360 (S/360) mainframe which debuted in 1964, and the World Wide Web.

Turning to IBM specifically, respondents named Big Blue's DB2 Universal Database as the company's most significant offering over the last 25 years, followed by CICS, MVS and z/OS. The IBM PC was in fifth position followed by the company's WebSphere software. Users have really responded positively to DB2 Universal Database because they can run the software on lower cost servers as well as mainframes, according to Rosen.

The final question posed to respondents asked them which three of a list of named people they believe have had the greatest impact on business computing over the past half century. Microsoft's Bill Gates was number one (55 percent), followed by IBM founder Thomas J. Watson (40 percent), and then Gene Amdahl (39 percent), the chief architect of Big Blue's S/360 mainframe.