Technical Mechanics vs. Executive IT Leaders

Marianne Broadbent and Ellen Kitzis 1The New CIO Leader: Setting the Agenda and Delivering Results write about technical managers vs. trusted executive leaders of the enterprise. Technical managers are experts in the mechanics of IT.  They “keep the lights on and do it cheap.”  This role is essential, especially in today’s environment of cost-cutting and rationalization of services.  However, this role can also minimize the impact for good that technology can have on the organization.  Increasingly, information and technology are the business, even in industries where IT has traditionally been on the sidelines.  It is rare to have a business capability that is not driven by technology.  Because of this, IT must be more than just the plumbing.  Far beyond enabling the business, technology, when done right, can transform the enterprise and open up new and powerful ways of doing business.

This vision of technology requires executive IT leaders who are trusted partners in the enterprise.  Because technology is so pervasive, Broadbent and Kitzis argue that IT leaders are in a unique position to lead out in identifying issues, creating opportunities, and driving solutions for business growth.  In order do this, they must have a deep understanding of business objectives, strategies, and processes as well as knowledge of the opportunities and constraints facing the enterprise across all functions.  They need a vision of how technology can drive business value, magnifying those opportunities and strategies.  And the executive IT leader needs the ability to engage their executive colleagues in ways that are not just relevant to them, but that excite and empower.

The New CIO Leader is addressed primarily top IT leaders within the organization.  However, the insights and exhortations are at least as important for directors and managers – those who are on the ground delivering IT capabilities.

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