In this article Dean Madison is the president of TD Madison & Associates talks about the role of the IT executive has expanded enormously in the last decade as the contribution of technology and digitization to business’s strategic goals has grown.
IT executives were once thought of as top-level system administrators. They were responsible for deploying and managing the technology that a business needed to achieve its strategic goals. Decisions about what those strategic goals should be were made elsewhere.
Today, the role of IT executivesâ€”and senior executives and CIOs in particularâ€”has evolved.
Technology has more impact on the success of businesses today than at any point in history. Internal processes and external relationships with suppliers and consumers have been digitized. Cloud services and ubiquitous networking technology permeates every business function. Many businesses are completely reliant on their technological edge for competitive advantage. For these reasons and more, senior IT executives must be included in strategic decision making at the highest level.
But what qualities should businesses be looking for when recruiting senior technology executives in 2020?
Proven Leadership Ability
IT executives are the interface between IT systems and other business units. Every part of a modern business leverages technology. But that doesn’t mean every executive appreciates the transformative potential of IT infrastructure, software, and emerging technologies.
Experienced IT executives understand both the business and the technological landscape. They spot patterns and opportunities in both domains. They provide the leadership that empowers enterprises to leverage IT infrastructure and other technologies to increase competitiveness, reduce costs, and automate critical pathways.
Project Management Talent
Many of the most expensive and impactful projects fall under the aegis of IT executives. We are all familiar with tales of canceled IT projects, spiraling budgets, and projects that failed to achieve their goals. IT is a complex field, and IT projects involve many stakeholders across multiple areas of expertise. Large IT projects should be entrusted to IT executives with proven project management experience and knowledge.
The best IT executives have a deep understanding of a range of technologies, their potential impact, andâ€”perhaps most importantâ€”how they can be deployed to the advantage of their employer. In-depth knowledge of technology is not enough: an academic may have a profound understanding of a particular technology but cannot apply that knowledge to the strategic requirements of the business. IT executives combine theoretical knowledge with practical experience and business expertise.
A Visionary Understanding of Emerging Technology
As important as a deep understanding of the potential of current technology is an awareness of emerging technology. Technologies such as 5G, the Internet of Things, and machine learning change the fundamental makeup of the markets in which businesses operate. If senior IT executives are to contribute to strategic planning, they must be able to spot opportunities and challenges presented by emerging technologies, including their likely impact on the business and its market.
Talented IT executives play a critical role in strategic planning and IT implementation. As businesses seek to improve performance and productivity and to adapt to markets that evolve unpredictably with the emergence of new technologies, recruiting talented executives with the skill to fulfill all of these roles is vital.