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Transforming the IT leadership role

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The IT leadership role has continued to evolve and responsibilities have increased as the dependency on technology increases for organizations.  Our workforce is more distributed, more tech-savvy, and the competitive landscape is continually changing.  There are also compliance issues, security threats, and advanced technologies that can be difficult for any technology leader to stay ahead of the curve.  How can organizations find that one individual that can align with the business strategy, satisfy the users and keep up with the changing technology landscape?

In the past, when organizations would describe the IT department and what it meant to the business it was viewed as a support function.  Making sure the network was up, there was connection to the internet and the back office software was delivered to the users was the scope of responsibilities.

Now with the reliance on technology for almost everything across the business, IT is taking a new role and is being elevated in order to not only keep the lights on but to help drive innovation.  In addition, the technology footprint no longer resides inside the walls of the business.  Cloud technologies are being adopted and that increases the complexity and management requirements.

When we talk to business leaders one of the first questions we ask them is if and how much technology is incorporated into their strategic plan and what contribution IT leadership played in the planning.  It is surprising that more times than not we hear that it is either very little or they have a separate plan for technology.

If we ask organizations, how the biggest enabler of the business could not be part of the strategy, most times it is because the leadership within the IT department doesn’t have a seat at the executive table.  Maybe they have grown up with the company and ultimately their role evolved into a management position. In some industries, the technology thought leadership is being managed within another function such as engineering.

In today’s environment, it is critical that the technology leader is better connected to the business.  They need to understand the processes, dependencies, gaps and challenges the organization faces.  They need to understand the industry and have the ability to look into the distance to identify those emerging technologies that will give the business a competitive advantage.  They also need to have the ability to identify the risks and threats that technology introduces.

Transforming the IT leadership position is not an easy task.  You first need to make sure you have the right person for the job.  The right person is not always the one that knows it all but has the ability to leverage partners, resources and industry experts to get the job done.  If there isn’t a seat at the executive table that is filled by IT, ask yourself if it is because you don’t have the right person or if you just haven’t elevated the role where it needs to be to achieve our strategic objectives.

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