IT Leaders are still not considered Business Leaders

IT Leaders are still not considered Business Leaders

With the proliferation of digital transformation and technology-speak in an organisation; I am constantly amazed that CIOs or IT leaders are still fighting for their seat at the executive table. This was recently reinforced as I have read through a number of digital transformation surveys and research reports from a number of large and respected research houses.

To provide balanced perspectives, about half of the interviewees were business leaders such as CEOs, line of business managers, marketing heads or COOs, while the other half were IT and technology leaders.

So why are IT Leaders not automatically granted a seat at the table?

This is a legacy problem that has a lot to do with the “Black Box” nature of technology. IT Leaders have for the longest time been seen as only being able to speak about technical business support systems. ERP; email; systems busses; cyber security. The information delivery and custodian part of their role (when speaking about CIOs) has almost been forgotten.

IT Leaders were seen as operational support and a cost centre. Basically, “make sure we all have computers that work and that we can all connect to the internet and print.”. IT Leaders were allowed to be strategic about their divisions in so far as it was done within a restricted budget and it didn’t disrupt the way the business operated.

Cue Digital Disruption

All of a sudden things have changed. IT is now an enabler and a disruptor to the “business as normal” functioning of a company. No longer is technology hampering the advancement of a business; it is the competitive advantage of the business. Platform Thinking; digital transformation; distributed computing; cyber attacks and cryptocurrencies. These make up the lexicon not only of the IT leader; but every business leader worth their salt!

The trouble is that for many IT Leaders; this thrust into the limelight (as it were) comes unexpectedly and they have not been honing their business skills and internal political capital to equip themselves to be able to successfully contribute to a bigger strategic conversation. Still content to be operational and confined to “Black Box” tinkering, IT Leaders are having to learn a new set of skills just to stay relevant as their domains are poised to lead the next business revolution.

IT Leaders need to adapt

IT Leaders need to be taken seriously. This means that the IT Leader needs to have a strategic voice and begin contributing to the strategic conversation about the direction and capability of their organisations.

This involves a number of things; but most importantly is starts with understanding where you are positioned between these three facets of an IT Leader:

  • Operational Reliability
  • Service Excellence
  • The Right to Disrupt

IT can no longer be confined to a single department; the effects of good and bad IT decisions are able to make and break organisations overnight. It is critical that IT Leaders are contributing to the current and future strategic direction of your organisation!

HKLM Digital have a great range of services and assessments that are geared at understanding the digital readiness of IT leaders and organisations as a whole.