Recent years have elevated the profile of IT leaders who have seen their roles at executive tables grow in prominence. Never before has technology — how it’s implemented, managed and engaged — mattered more to business success. The good news for IT leaders is that their businesses are benefiting in big ways from the technology knowledge and insight they bring to business strategy. The challenging news is that their technology remit continues to grow, and fast. The more the business relies on technology, the more technology there is to manage.
Since the start of 2017, I have been talking to IT leaders about how they are balancing their expanding roles and what is keeping them up at night. Across the board, they are enjoying having more input into business strategy. However, they are also worried about staying ahead of ever-evolving technology as well as business and customer needs. Here are the concerns keeping today’s senior-most IT leaders up at night.
If the president and Congress are talking daily about cybersecurity breaches and information leaks, it’s not surprising that this is an issue on the minds of IT leaders as well. The list of threats and vulnerabilities facing today’s businesses is long and mostly centered on technology. From ransomware and email hacks to ever-increasing ways to deliver malware, today’s IT security threats are keeping everyone on edge and they’re the No. 1 concern for today’s executive technology leaders.
The tech skills shortage
Demand for tech talent far outstrips supply, which makes building strong IT teams a major concern for IT leaders. In fact, it’s a challenge that radiates across entire organizations, because IT skills are becoming critical to jobs in just about every business unit. More and more business groups are leaning on the IT organization to help fill roles, or they’re at least asking IT for advice on skills for digital roles.
Data aggregation and analysis
IT leaders continue to be under tremendous pressure to get more business value from the data captured across disparate technology systems. While big data efforts have had some success, the continued expansion of systems makes this a challenge that grows as fast as the reach and responsibilities of technology expand.
Keeping pace with customers
While IT organizations have long served many customers, the digital marketplace has created a new highly informed and, often, technically skilled customer. When it comes to service and experience, the digital demands of both internal and external customers are high — high speed, high quality and highly engaging. The challenge of understanding and meeting these expectations falls to today’s technology leaders.
Just as the role and expectations for IT have increased exponentially across the business, so have IT costs. Technology leaders today have to demonstrate far more than operational value for their systems and structures. Stakeholders are looking to understand exactly how technology is making the business more competitive, more profitable and better equipped to adapt to a marketplace of continuous disruption. It’s enough to make some long for the days when many argued that IT was “a commodity” or simple “table stakes” rather than an essential element of competitive advantage.
With five big concerns and only seven days in a week, are today’s IT leaders sleeping much at all? They are. The fact is, despite the concerns, most of us are doing well and embracing the challenges and opportunities of helping to drive business strategy. Bold leadership is one of the reasons technology has seen such growth and success. It’s often said that “with great power, comes great responsibility.” While less starry-eyed but certainly true, more worry and a little less sleep may also be a part of that equation for tech leaders and all those who are taking on more in order to push us ahead.