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Corporations want their information technology shops to be run like businesses.

A newly released report, however, suggests that many organizations are stumbling in that regard. Sapient, a systems integrator, collaborated with Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management on a white paper that examines the problem of unlocking technology’s potential.

“Most [organizations] are missing out on their greatest opportunity for value creation: understanding, leveraging, extending and rationalizing their existing business applications through a structured and ongoing business applications planning process,” the white paper said.

Each year, the typical Global 2000 firm allocates about three-quarters of its annual operational technology budget toward existing applications. But 44 percent of the 179 Fortune 1000 firms surveyed for one study failed to properly document applications and infrastructure, according to Mark Jeffery, an associate professor of technology at Kellogg and co-author of the white paper.

Against this backdrop, a class of software technology is emerging to address knowledge gaps in the IT department. AMR Research refers to the software as IT resource planning, or ITRP. The research house believes that ITRP “will do for IT what enterprise resource planning did for the enterprise.”

In a research brief earlier this year, AMR said chief information officers seek improved visibility over IT but have found it difficult to achieve this objective with “the existing collection of unrelated point tools for IT.” ITRP, AMR contended, provides a suite of technology as opposed to point products.

Here’s the channel angle: Integrators and resellers may find a niche in deploying ITRP, as they have in implementing ERP.

Tool vendors already are cultivating ties to the channel.

Troux Technologies, which terms its wares an “IT governance suite,” is among the vendors pursuing the ERP-for-IT market. Troux works with value-added partners, which resell its solutions combined with professional services, support and training. The company also works with services partners, which don’t resell software but offer services in support of Troux’s products.

Troux’s suite includes enterprise architecture and portfolio management, among other applications. The products let customers capture enterprise IT and business data, plan the enterprise architecture, and manage their IT portfolios. In other words, they do the things that the Sapient/Kellogg report says a number of IT departments aren’t doing.

Telelogic’s System Architect also fits into the IT tool category. The company also works with the channel, teaming with professional services partners, resellers and distributors. In the reseller/distributor category, the company has arrangements with Accenture and ASAP Software Express.

But vendor allies needn’t be large companies. Troux, for example, works with Blueprint Technologies, a small business that focuses on architecture-based solutions.

The Sapient/Kellogg white paper doesn’t point to specific products for guiding IT departments. Instead, it described an Application Investment Management framework as a way to “systematically understand and align business value with spending on applications.”

It’s fairly clear that IT needs help. Integrators who understand the processes and tools of application portfolio management may find themselves with a consulting and implementation services opportunity.