If you are looking to reduce costs and the first area going is your technology department, you are on a very slippery road down to the bottom Chris Riddell\n\u201cWhatever industry you are in, whatever organisation you have, whatever it is your business does, you are in the business of technology,\u201d says global futurist Chris Riddell.\n\u201cWe are all now in the business of technology.\u201d\nDifferent businesses have different structures, he points out.\nBut he says all of the organisations he has worked with make sure they create IT departments that are \u2018rock stars\u2019.\n\u201cAmplify the capability, the talent of your technology department,\u201d he states. \u201cMake them to as visible as they can to the business.\n\u201cLet the business know what your IT division can do. Move them away from the business of just fixing your laptop.\n\u201cThese people are critical to what we do, to how we help grow our business.\u201d\nExecutive support is crucial to make this happen, Riddell states.\n\u201cIt is hard,\u201d he says, for some CIOs and their teams. \u201cYou are going against the culture that has been built decades where that has not been the case.\u201d\n\u201cWe came from an era where technology was a back office function, being in the base of the business or hidden in the corner of the offices. \nThe way to get through that is time...and persistence,\u201d he says. \n\u201cI have been in organisations where that has been a big issue. The finance head does not see IT as an enabler to the business, they see it as an overhead.\n\u201cSo when they have to reduce cost, the first area they go to is the IT division.\n\u201cThat is a big mistake,\u201d he stresses.\n\u201cIn 2018, if you are looking to reduce costs and the first area going is your technology department, you are on a very slippery road down to the bottom. It is going to spell out disaster for you.\nAt the same time he is encouraging IT leaders to behave like entrepreneurs, \u201ca bit like startups, like they are working in a new business\u201d.\nUse the same business language - \u201cnot the language technology people use\u201d - when they are talking to other executives like the CFO, CMO and the Board. \nIT leadership historically has been around providing lots of processes and safety decisioning around processes, he states.\nIf the business wants a new system, like a sales system, the IT department will say, \u2018Oh no, it is going to take nine months to do, it will cost $3.5 million.\n\u2018We will need to capture requirements, more people.\u2019\n\u201cThat does not work because if you don\u2019t help them, the business will go out.\u201d\n\u201cThe most dangerous thing that exists now is a credit card,\u201d he says.\nWith the business corporate credit card in marketing departments, staff can log on to so many websites and sign up for cloud sharing environment, everything from Dropbox to Salesforce.\n\u201cThey can do this without you.\n\u201cIf you don't behave differently and enable them to get what they want, they will use their corporate credit card to do what they want without you being involved.\u201d\nRiddell\u2019s previous roles include being the first chief digital officer at Mars in Australia and New Zealand, working on brands that Mars, Maltesers, MasterFoods and Dolmio.\nThe CDO role was part of how much the technology part of the business has changed over the years, he says, reflecting on the role.\n\u201cTechnology used to be siloed. It did not have a strong function and it did not have the strong business focus that it has now,\u201d says Riddell.\n\u201cIt was purely about infrastructure, hardware, laptops, servers and cables.\u201d\nIT and technology used to be considered a cost and overhead in the business and now very much, it is about helping to grow the business and be a business partner, he says\n\u201cTechnology is also helping the business to be more efficient, reducing bottom line costs and also having a true seat at the table, when it comes to leadership of the organisation.\n\u201cWe used to see IT directors and CIOs very much reporting to finance leaders, to CFOs. We have started to see a big shift over the past few years.\n\u201cICT leaders are now true co-pilots of the business.\n\u201cHigh volatility, high uncertainty, they are the new normal for us. You have got to behave differently.\n\u201cIt is, honestly,the most exciting time to be a CIO, CTO or a CDO,\u201d says Riddell.\n\u201cUnderstand that you [the CIO] are the most important person now and this is your time.\u201d\n"Whatever industry you are in, whatever it is your business does, you are in the business of technology."\nTechnology futurist and digital evangelist Chris Riddelltalked about \u2018emerging trends in our hyperconnected world\u2019 at the Umbrellar Live 2018in Auckland.