by Eric Knorr

What IT leadership looks like in 2021

Jan 11, 2021
IT LeadershipIT ManagementIT Strategy

As IT leaders meet the challenges of the COVID era, only one thing is assured – more change is coming sooner than you think.

Tech Spotlight   >   IT Leadership [intro]   >   One glowing arrow leads a pack of other arrows.
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The new normal isn’t new anymore. It’s just normal. In today’s off-kilter, work-from-home world, the No. 1 management lesson has been to relearn what we should have known already: One size does not fit all. The first responsibility of IT leaders during the pandemic is to assess the personal situations of the people who report to them and adjust expectations and work arrangements accordingly.

This is not a one-and-done task. People’s family, risk, and health situations fluctuate, so check-ins must be ongoing. “How are you doing?” becomes a real question.

As it happens, in the midst of so much uncertainty and strife, such heightened awareness is also needed to monitor the shifting state of the business IT serves.

The evolution of IT leadership can be seen as a long arc toward greater integration with, and ultimately membership in, business leadership. As the upheaval rolls on, new parts of the business may soar as others decline. IT leaders must be first among those in the enterprise to grasp and accommodate these shifts and how they are predicted to change again when the pandemic ends. Such forecasts will necessarily be part guesswork, so IT leaders must ensure “agility” is not just a buzzword, but an embedded part of IT culture and infrastructure.

The recent surge in cloud adoption touted by industry analysts, for example, is not merely a way to avoid capital expense in a time when all bets are off. The hyperscale providers offer cloud-native tools that enable sophisticated applications to be built and modified quickly to suit shifting demands, not to mention monitoring and analytics to reveal the direction of travel. Rapid change is always demanding; the immediate goal is to adopt technologies and practices to make it less stressful in extraordinary times.

In this collection of articles from CIO, Computerworld, InfoWorld, CSO, and Network World, you’ll find a wealth of examples and advice on meeting the challenges of managing change at multiple levels, including how to rethink cybersecurity and how to plan for the new hybrid workplace to come.

Make no mistake: Those gainfully employed in IT are lucky compared to those working in many other parts of the economy. But IT leaders also need to recognize their increased responsibility to ensure the health of the business, not to mention the welfare of the people who work for them.