IT Leadership in the Modern Age

IT teams have a long tradition of being geeky and unapproachable – well depicted by the TV show “The IT Crowd“!  And even though thousands of IT professionals have been trying to shake off the image since the first IBM PC in 1981, there’s no doubt in my mind that many still enjoy the ‘protection’ offered by the ill-understood complexity of technology.  We’re confident, however, that this is beginning to change.  And it’s a change that’s starting at the top.  A new approach to how IT teams conduct themselves is being ushered-in by the leadership.  This is IT Leadership in the Modern Age.

Technology has affected us all

The first thing we need to align on is that technology has affected the way each and every one of us works.  Not many people would claim that technology has had no impact on their job over recent years.  This article in Forbes breaks-down the impact of technology at work into 3 categories:  

  • Communication: the language used and the method of communication both matter in organisations;
  • Work Ethics: not only how you work but also where and when you work;
  • Performance Management: the oversight and review of everything we do at work – it’s changing significantly but not going away!

If you’re still unsure, take a look at the phone in your pocket or on your desk.  Consider how you check your email, where you store your digital files.  What measures do you take to protect the data of your employees, clients and suppliers?  Much of this (and more) will have changed beyond recognition from only a few years ago!

Simplicity starts at home

The development and accessibility of the Apple range of mobile phones, tablets and laptops initially consumed in our personal lives has set new expectations.  We’ve been inundated with features and capability, and this has set the standard on how we judge the IT we use in the workplace.

Sadly, technology available for business is typically lacking the simplicity and presentation of Apple, leaving us all somewhat underwhelmed.  Couple that with the highly-technical nature of what most businesses want / need from their IT and it’s no wonder that most in-house IT teams struggle to convey the ‘function and form’ of the technology they’re responsible for.

Bridging the 'IT gap'

The technology process gurus have been busy creating new ways to work, frameworks and terminology.  RUP (Rational Unified Process), User Stories, Agile and, more recently but still 10 years ago, Lean Start-up have all been on-trend.  These are attempts at trying to improve the connection between the business-focussed teams and the IT teams that have historically supported them.

All attempts at closing the gap have been worthwhile.  They mark key points in the evolution of the relationship and of business and IT working together to deliver.  Most importantly, those organisations with the greatest success have understood how business and IT teams must work together.  Working in partnership is the preferred approach, rather than having the IT team simply serving every need of the business.

Leadership starts at the top

All the methodologies in the world won’t make an IT team work more cohesively with the rest of the business.  To be at its most effective, every IT team needs a strong, technical leader.  This role is usually, and rightly, fulfilled by a Chief Information Officer (CIO) or IT Director.

Not surprisingly, the most senior member of the IT team will also be the one individual connected with the entire collection of diverse teams spanning the organisation; hearing about their pain-points and frustrations first-hand or distilled through a single team leader or manager.

The CIO is the single person in an organisation that can make or break that relationship between IT and the rest of the business.  And in today’s modern world, where technology touches every part of our lives, only a CIO with a broad range of skills and experience, across multiple sectors or industries, will be able to successfully deliver what every organisation needs.  From strategy to the selection of productivity tools, the CIO will influence every decision.

In our view, this demands a new breed of CIO’s.  One with the appreciation for how technology can impact the success of a business, but with the skills to remove the complexity and mystery that has surrounded the IT world for so long.  Simplifying technology solutions is what we do at Parker Veese and we believe it’s what sets us apart from the rest.  Through this single action, we help businesses make truly informed decisions in a language that everyone understands, which leads to success and growth.   Simplify Solutions – To Scale.

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