The Four Roles of the New IT Leader

The roles of the new IT leader include trend spotter, negotiator and mediator, information weaver, and business process innovator.

Role #2: Negotiator and Meditator

As the role of IT continues to evolve, we can expect that as much as 80 percent of IT assets will live outside the walls of the enterprise. As this happens, a second critical role for the new IT leader will emerge. IT organizations will no longer be able to simply mandate terms and conditions to their technology providers. Instead, a delicate dance will be required to bring together the myriad constituencies of service providers, customers and internal IT organizations to create the complex IT ecosystems that will power the modern IT era. 

This will require that the new IT leader become an expert negotiator. There will be a large number of conflicting priorities and technology demands that will need to be balanced. IT leaders will be in the best position to ensure that the competing demands are balanced in the best interests of the overall organization. This type of negotiation will not be about getting the best price or driving every last concession out of service providers. Instead, it will be about constructing a web of interconnected and mutually beneficial relationships.

In addition, those relationships will not remain static. The minute they are established, they will begin to change. So, the new IT leader must also be an expert mediator. You must be constantly standing in the gap between the various parts of the ecosystem to ensure that the relationships continue to evolve and adjust in concert over time. It will not be an easy task, but it will be a vital role. 

Role #3: Information Weaver

One of the side effects of services being delivered via these IT ecosystems is that key data elements important to the enterprise will now reside in different places outside of the organization. While that may work for the specific function that is using a given application, it will likely leave huge islands of isolated data scattered across the enterprise. This will create a huge risk that vital information that must be created through the interconnection of disparate data elements will be lost.

This will create the third key role for the new IT leader: Information Weaver. The IT leader of next-generation IT organizations will be adept at identifying those key data elements and ensuring that they are intricately and dynamically woven together to deliver strategic and competitive advantages to the organization. Using the previously described negotiation and mediation skills, you must build deep relationships and an intimate understanding of the business processes leveraging the organization’s data assets to excel in this role. Your success or failure in being able to harvest and weave those data elements into a mosaic of meaningful and actionable information will likely be reflected in the ultimate success or failure of the entire organization.

Role #4: Business Process Innovator

The final role of the new IT leader may be both the most challenging and the most important. Technology will be one of the few remaining engines of innovation and growth that drives competitive advantages. However, it is also clear that technology innovation will not occur within the walls of the enterprise. Technology innovation will be driven by technology companies, but that doesn’t mean the IT organization is out of the innovation business. Rather, it will fall upon new IT leaders to create business process innovation out of existing and emerging technologies.

This article was originally published on 03-01-2013
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