Top Skills IT Leaders Need to Succeed as Business… | Gagen MacDonald

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Top Skills IT Leaders Need to Succeed as Business Drivers

Apr 18, 2017
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Technology trends such as the "Internet of things," smart machines and cloud architecture are driving transformational change across the business world. Leading this charge is a company’s CIO. Today, the role requires a lot more than technical and operational knowledge. CIOs need to connect internal and external ecosystems, identify aligned technologies for pilot projects, improve user access to information—all while staying mindful of security issues.

Those transitioning from managerial IT roles into leadership positions must develop specific leadership skills. Achieving mastery in the following competencies will successfully drive business goals.

Develop high-performing employees

Leadership development is crucial for business success and especially important in IT. Skilled CIOs recognize, nurture and unleash individual capabilities, providing the necessary support, tools and training to promote success. IT leaders require particular support in transitioning from coding and similar front-line IT work to managerial and leadership positions, with the accompanying shift in focus and responsibilities. The battle for IT talent gets easier to win when leadership development is a clear top priority.

Market the importance of tech internally

One challenge facing IT leaders is the need to educate their peers on the value of using technology to transform business. To do this, learn to articulate potential successes. For instance, if your aging technology infrastructure lags behind your competitors, explain how an upgrade will have a positive impact on the company’s bottom line and quantify those gains in dollars. (For more on how to communicate effectively in terms your business counterparts appreciate, see our blog post Newsflash: IT Is Actually ‘The Business’ Too.)

Assume an active role in activating strategy

According to Info-Tech’s CIO-CEO alignment survey, more than 60 percent of executive-level stakeholders believe their CIO does not clearly understand business goals. Only 23 percent believe their CIO has developed an IT strategy that’s effectively aligned with corporate strategy. To drive successful digital transformation, lean into collaborating with fellow executives, namely the CMO. Focus on business needs, then tap your expertise to support them using an array of employee-centric technologies and digital tools.

Be open to changing corporate culture

Driving culture change and technology transformation requires IT leaders to collaborate on vision, values and desired behaviors to move company culture forward. Ambassadors, change leaders and role models can further help achieve buy-in from fellow employees.

The stakes for technology-driven change are often high. Gagen supported a Fortune 500 insurance company’s efforts to modernize its lagging technology infrastructure, which was proving to be a competitive disadvantage. The mission called for nothing less than building a world-class IT strategy and culture change function from scratch—quickly. Read the case study here.

Manage risk

Today’s CIOs must navigate an increasingly complex regulatory system and protect against loss from data breaches. It's for this reason that IT leaders should develop a strategy that engages employees as individual guardians of IT security, data privacy, compliance and intellectual property. Once everyone is involved, privacy and security will be taken seriously. (See Enterprise Risk Stewardship: Engaging Employees to Manage Risk for more.)

Build a data-driven IT strategy

It’s the era of big data, yet according to Forbes Insights only 23 percent of companies have an analytics strategy that encompasses their entire organization. Thirty-five percent of companies surveyed name "integration into the business process" as a top challenge of driving adoption of analytics insights. Effective IT leaders must put people at the center of technology decisions and spearhead the usage of big data to spur business strategies.

CIOs that develop these skills are certain to find success as drivers of business.

Learn how Gagen MacDonald can help with technology transformation.

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