The mammoth task of integrating different bits of IT equipment is hampering enterprises' flexibility and slowing the response to the demands of business.

The source of the problem, according to IT execs, is business units buying their own kit without consultation and then expecting sysadmins to bolt it together seamlessly.

Australian businesses will spend more than A$2.4 million (£1 million) on integration projects in 2005 - about a tenth of the entire IT budget - according to IDC's ITEyewitness Report.

The problem is also made worse by communication failure between different parts of the business and the IT arm, IDC software and services research director, Tim Sheedy, said. Purchases are often made without consulting IT. "The crux of the integration problem is that business does not talk to IT. Business is partly to blame although IT has to take some share of the responsibility," he said.

"More and more IT purchases are made by line of business managers. When they go to IT seeking a solution, IT advises it will take 18 months to deploy. As a result business goes externally and gets the work done but applications are not integrated.

"The model of the future is a dynamic enterprise with integration the key step - a dynamic IT department needs to be quick to respond to business needs."

Sheedy outlined four types of integration projects in use in the marketplace: integrating the data in a warehouse or store, integrating back-end applications through middleware, integrating at the desktop and lastly, the rip-and-replace approach.