Industry and Careers
Today’s chief information officers (CIOs) and other technology management leaders exist at a significant crossroads, responsible for more than just the overall technological direction of their organizations. Increasingly, many IT leaders are now essential members of executive teams, called on to provide organizations with expert visions on mastering information technologies as strategic competitive advantages.
Meanwhile, IT innovation has never been more important. Technology suddenly has moved organizations into a new “Postdigital” Enterprise era, according to Deloitte,1 with a next wave of innovations that will “provoke and harvest disruption.” Deloitte sees, in 2013, a “convergence and controlled collision” of five forces: Analytics, Mobile, Social, Cloud and Cyber.
“Don’t get caught unaware or unprepared,” the consulting firm warns.
One More Challenge: Moving People
As if the IT challenges of 2013 already aren’t enough, perhaps the biggest IT challenge of all, according to technology experts, will be getting more IT leaders to give wings to their technology projects with sound business management and people management principles.
It is why more than two-thirds of IT leaders, in a recent CIO magazine survey,2 said they plan to place more focus on marketing the IT department to give the business a better understanding of IT’s capabilities and processes, up from 55 percent in 2012.
CIOs are “increasingly taking action to solidify or elevate their team’s general relationship with business stakeholders by delegating more, developing leadership and cross-functional skills among their IT staff and increasing their attention and focus on customers,” according to the CIO magazine report on the survey’s findings.
“An IT team that has a deep understanding of the company’s business is much more apt to be able to spot opportunities for external revenue-generating projects,” writes Mary K. Pratt, reporting for Computerworld.3 “Once they get the green light, technologists will most likely be required to work closely with experts in other departments to identify customer needs and market products.
Better Business Results
As Pratt suggests, organizations want their IT leaders to become better champions of bottom-line business objectives.
While, historically, IT departments have been effective at driving efficiencies, IT leaders have fallen short on driving business profits, according to a global survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Juniper Networks.4 The majority of businesses “still failing to engage with IT departments when it comes to new product development and identifying new markets and growth opportunities.”
The disconnect? Organizations and IT departments continue to work in silos, a recipe for disaster in the post-digital world of real-time connectivity and constant engagement with customers.
“In this age of exponential scale, the interconnection of business and IT is as important as processing power,” the Economist Intelligence Unit survey report added.
Wanted: Well-Balanced IT Leaders
As a result, organizations are in need of IT leadership upgrades. This calls for professionals who can think about business and people power as much as technology power.
“You may be the best programmer in the world, but what companies really want are people who understand the business side of things,” writes Rich Hein, a senior writer for CIO magazine.5
“CIOs are learning they must also employ a variety of management tools to support the mission – and enhance their own value,” agreed Kim S. Nash, also writing for CIO magazine.6
IT leaders must shed their tech-focused skins and emerge as business-driven executives.
“For CIOs, the answer is simple – not easy, but simple: they need to begin rapidly withdrawing themselves and their business-technology teams from the integration business and begin devoting more and more of their time to growth-oriented and customer-centric innovation,” writes Bob Evans, a business and technology strategist at Oracle, in Forbes.7
Jobs Abound for IT Innovators
The end result, for the most strategic IT leaders, should be a robust job market as IT spending continues to increase. Gartner predicts that worldwide IT spending will surpass $4 trillion by 2015.8
“The role of the CIO is in the midst of changing from doing more with less to doing more with digital innovation,” concluded Eric Lundquist, writing for InformationWeek.9
1. Deloitte (2012). Tech Trends 2013: Elements of Postdigital. Retrieved January 16, 2013, from http://www.deloitte.com/assets/Dcom-UnitedStates/Local%20Assets/Documents/us_cons_techtrends2013_12122012.pdf
2. CIO (2013, January). 2013 State of the CIO Survey. Retrieved January 16, 2013, from http://www.cio.com/documents/pdfs/2013%20State%20of%20the%20CIO%20Exec%20Summary.pdf
3. Pratt, M.K. (2013, January 17). New Task for CIOs: Make Money. Computerworld. Retrieved January 17, 2013, from http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9235759/New_task_for_CIOs_Make_money?taxonomyId=213&pageNumber=1
4. Economist Intelligence Unit (December 2012). Can the IT Department Keep Up with Exponential Growth? Retrieved January 16, 2013, from http://www.juniper.net/us/en/local/pdf/brochures/1600068-en.pdf
5. Hein, R. (2012, December 26). 9 IT Career Resolutions for 2013. CIO. Retrieved January 16, 2013, from http://www.cio.com/article/724728/9_IT_Career_Resolutions_for_2013
6. Nash, K.S. (2013, January 2). More CIOs are Gaining Stature as Business Strategists. CIO. Retrieved January 16, 2013, from http://www.cio.com/article/723858/More_CIOs_Are_Gaining_Stature_As_Business_Strategists
7. Evans, B. (2012, September 28). The Top 10 Strategic CIO Issues for 2012. Forbes. Retrieved January 16, 2013, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/oracle/2012/09/28/the-top-10-strategic-cio-issues-for-2013/
8. Lundquist, E. (2012, October 23). Gartner: 2013 Tech Spending to Hit $3.7 Trillion. InformationWeek. Retrieved January 16, 2013, from http://www.informationweek.com/global-cio/interviews/gartner-2013-tech-spending-to-hit-37-tri/240009565
9. Lundquist, E. (2012, October 23). Gartner: 2013 Tech Spending to Hit $3.7 Trillion. InformationWeek. Retrieved January 16, 2013, from http://www.informationweek.com/global-cio/interviews/gartner-2013-tech-spending-to-hit-37-tri/240009565
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