I am fortunate and excited to be on the host committee for the Comspark Innovation Tech Summit that is scheduled to take place in Cincinnati – October 26, 27 2016. I’ve personally spent 17 years serving the IT field and most of that has been corporate IT departments. What I have noticed, experienced, and had conveyed to me by great technology leaders I work with is that technology has moved from business enabler only, to also a being a strategic and competitive advantage in most organizations. Gone are the days IT departments simply “kept the lights on.” It is now and will continue to grow into the role of strategic partner in all organizations.
But there is still work to do. Many organizations are still trying to determine how to best integrate their IT departments into the planning and feedback process. Here are some of the common themes that I see developing.
- The first question that companies need to ask is Are you hiring business minded leaders into your technology teams? For so long now, technology hiring has been a question of: What skills do you have? What software are you familiar with? What platforms have you worked on? While that is still important, and every organization needs those tech enthusiasts and code writers, it is also now important to hire strategic minded business leaders as well. People who recognize that while there is a specific daily job IT must do, they also see and can articulate to their teams the understanding that their primary role is to make the business more capable at what they do to help the organization accomplish its goals.
- Have you created an internal culture that brings great ideas to the surface? Companies benefit when great ideas come to the surface easily and regularly. We’ve all heard the legends of a particular worker in a particular factory tweaking the manufacturing process in a way that allowed exponential production of goods. Or the person with that one great idea that started a business and became worth billions overnights. These people solved problems. And the goal of any great organization is to do the same. Technology departments see the guts of an organization. They often know how to resolve problems that companies may not even realize are a problem at all. Their knowledge base can make a process more efficient through use of technology or change the landscape completely by applying a few small tweaks that only they know exist. Companies must foster an environment that enables this communication to occur. Thanks to my friend Ricky, who recently consulted on some technology matters for my company. He was brave enough to put this principle to work in our relationship. As a result, we are making some tweaks that will make us much better as a service provider.
- Do your IT leaders have a seat at the table? C-suite conversations…Board Meetings….Strategic planning sessions. Whatever the forum might be, does IT have a presence there? IT leaders need to hear, know, and play a role in understanding the business’ objectives at its core. This knowledge will allow them to think through how technology can help in these goals being achieved. They might just fast forward your goal dates while they are at it.
Overall, I feel like the trend in technology over the last two decades has continued to evolve into a most critical role for many organizations. It’s exciting to see the impact that these strategic and technical individuals can have on the business landscape each and every day. Many organizations I work with absolutely have this right. Is yours one of them??? It might just be the difference between mediocrity and being a leader in your space.