Transforming the IT leadership role
ARTICLE | September 21, 2023
Authored by RSM US LLP
The information technology leadership role continues to evolve. Leaders’ responsibilities have increased as companies become more dependent on technology. The workforce is more dispersed and tech-savvy.
The competitive landscape is continually changing. New compliance issues, security threats and advanced technologies can be difficult for any technology leader to balance. How can organizations find that one individual who can align their business strategy, satisfy users and keep up with the changing technology landscape?
In the past, business leaders often viewed the IT department as a support function. IT had to ensure the network was up, the internet was connected and software was upgraded.
Today, with companies reliant on technology for almost everything, IT is taking on a new, elevated role. IT not only keeps the lights but helps drive innovation. In addition, the technology footprint no longer resides inside the walls of the business. Cloud technologies increase the complexity and requirements of management.
Business leaders need to ask how much technology is incorporated into their strategic plans and what contribution IT leadership plays. Surprisingly, business leaders often have a separate plan for technology.
How can the biggest enabler of the business not be part of the strategy? Often, it is because IT leadership doesn’t have a seat at the executive table. In some industries, technology thought leadership is managed within another function, such as engineering.
"How can the biggest enabler of the business not be part of the strategy? Often, it is because IT leadership doesn’t have a seat at the executive table. In some industries, technology thought leadership is managed within another function, such as engineering."
It is critical for technology leaders to be connected to the business. They need to understand the processes, dependencies, gaps and challenges the organization faces. They need to understand the industry and identify emerging technologies that will give the business a competitive advantage. They also need to identify the risks and threats that technology introduces.
A modern IT leader has a comprehensive knowledge base that goes beyond that of the traditional IT leader, who was often a technical guru with little understanding of the overall business. Modern IT leaders need to cultivate strong relationships across different functional areas and display strong vendor-management capabilities. These new leaders need a diverse skill set to manage a more varied IT operating platform.
Transforming IT leadership is not an easy task. Company leaders first need to make sure they have the right person for the job. The right person is not always the one who knows it all. An effective IT leader can leverage partners, resources and industry experts to get the job done. If IT doesn’t have a seat at the executive table, it may be because companies don’t have the right person or haven’t elevated the role. A strong IT leader is necessary for a company to achieve its strategic goals.
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This article was written by Chris Wetmore, Laurie Mosebrook and originally appeared on Sep 21, 2023.
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