Companies take an average of five months between conceiving and delivering an IT project, according to research from VMware.
The survey of IT decision makers, conducted by Vanson Bourne, found that long lead times were a particular problem in the UK, 80 percent of UK IT decision makers, compared with 65 percent across the rest of Europe.
The average gap was stated at five months, but a quarter of respondents usually saw a seven to 18 month gap for projects.
This dissonance carries severe consequences for performance, competitiveness and growth prospects of organisations, IT leads admitted.
In the UK, over half (51 percent) cited reduced likelihood of innovation across all departments, reduced staff productivity (52 percent) and loss of customers to more agile competitors (35 percent) as the biggest implications of a gap.
Speaking at the VMware conference in Wembley yesterday morning, Joe Baguley, CTO, EMEA, said that he was surprised the average gap was just five months and that time period was "too optimistic" for some companies.
He said: "A lag of almost half a year between what the business expects of IT and what it can deliver is huge. We cannot underplay the pressure IT departments face in the new mobile cloud era, as they balance a need to maximise value from existing systems alongside the necessity to deploy new technologies.
"We're hearing time and time again that business see IT as a driver of innovation; it has to be part of the future, not part of the furniture."
While CTOs may have previously become accustomed with a three to five year life cycle in changing operating systems, Baguley told the conference that at the top end of the spectrum, some companies were completing these cycles in a day.
VMware's Software defined enterprise
Baguley's keynote at Wembley this morning shed a light on VMware's new "software-defined-enterprise" concept that, he claims, will allow all infrastructures to be virtualised and delivered as a service, but with the data centre's control to be entirely automated by software.
VMware's network virtualisation is the next step for enterprises that have virtualised their environments, Baguley added. By 2015, he said, users can expect to see under 60 million units of virtual network ports, completely overshadowing physical counterparts. Using VMware's network hypervisor enterprises can build their own virtual networks on top, as an overlay, "freeing up from restraints of a physical network".
This spells a change in core IT infrastructure moving toward software, Baguley insisted, and all layers will be reside in the hypervisor, which he likened to "taking a router and splitting it into a thousand pieces across the environment."
"A lot of intelligence has now moved up the stack," he added.