The newer importance of technology in business is in the areas of strategy and business model. There, the problems—more often than not—are not well defined. Either, the canvas is blank or is too confusing
In the last twenty years, role of technology in business has changed dramatically. Today, technology is not just impacting products and processes, it is impacting strategy as well. Business models are dictated by technology.
As an IT leader, can you vouch that the importance of CIO has grown proportionately? Far from it; in fact, we are seeing question marks about the utility of CIO position.
Many IT leaders are still in denial mode. They point to some CIOs being given important corporate roles, such as HR, supply chain, administration, etc. in some large enterprises.
If some CIOs are given newer non-IT responsibilities, it is because of their capabilities as individuals. If anything, it proves that these capable people have nothing much to do within IT. The companies have optimally utilized their talent and capability by giving them other responsibilities.
But what explains this anomaly—while role of technology has grown manifold, the CIO’s importance has not?
I think it is the way the CIOs themselves—and hence others in organization—have seen their roles. While many CIOs today understand business, they have remained at an arm’s length from business decisions. Once the business decisions are taken, some of them are excellent at providing a technology solution. But when the canvas is blank, they do not know what to do.
The newer importance of technology in business is in the areas of strategy and business model. There, the problems—more often than not—are not well defined. Either, the canvas is blank or is too confusing. Since technology is an integral part today, it has to be interwoven to the business decision itself at that stage. It is not a subsequent decision.
Traditional IT managers are not used to such expectations.
This also explains why so many start-ups do not have full-fledged CIOs. One of the founders or top executives, often called CTO, technology head or product head, drives strategic technology and products and someone reporting to him/her looks after enterprise IT.
Most large organizations are trying to move towards that model—which means lesser and lesser role for traditional IT managers, even though their importance is not diminishing in any way. As more and more parts of business gets digitized, there would be bigger need for management and support of IT infrastructure. That will continue to be managed by IT managers.
If IT managers want to lead transformation and take more strategic roles—they just need one change. They must be role makers, not role takers.