With digital transformation leading the way, most companies are transforming holistically. Companies that are further ahead on the transformation maturity curve will seek to reinvent themselves, and the next wave of disruption will soon be upon us. Companies that have not yet embarked on their transformation journey, or that are far behind, need to quickly rebuild their technology leadership to step on the gas and catch up.
In retrospect, the digital revolution that began in the late 19th century continued through the 20th century steadily and accelerated during the 1990s. As a consequence, the first decade of the 2000s saw a significant increase of two counts of technology-focused leadership: the position of CIO (Director of Information Systems) and that of CTO (Director of Technology). Depending on the industry or organization, these positions have different responsibilities. Generally speaking, the CIO is in charge of the technologies that are used internally in a business, while the CTO focuses on technologies that grow the business externally.
The CIO is primarily focused on managing the company’s IT development and maintenance , and is good at organization and control. As the company’s IT department moves to the cloud, there will be less IT to manage internally. The role of the CIO will be to lead the transformation initiatives with the business and will also continue with the lights on. Undoubtedly, the heritage of technology based on cloud eliminates the pain associated with the IT internal , but introduces new challenges. The role of the CIO will be transformed into one specialized in the cloud, a role focused on digital transformation.
Traditionally, CTOs tracked critical external IT trends, policies, and procedures to develop or improve company products or services. In a technology products and services organization, this role is critical as the CTO becomes the spokesperson for the organization’s product offerings. In such organizations, the CTO also defines the strategic direction for product development. As the gap between business and technology narrows, this role will morph into a role that creates transformation and is focused on innovation.
The digital revolution shows no signs of slowing down. Today, when it comes to digital technologies, companies have many options. They want everything their peers have and also something they don’t have, and they want it with as little trauma as possible. In addition, there is a legacy that cannot be shed quickly. This cannot be achieved by throwing the newest and the best at the problem, nor by rushing into every fad that comes along the way. Companies need to have tech-savvy business leaders who are able to oversee their digital strategies and drive change across the company. They need technology leaders who understand the needs of the business, who can make the best decisions among multiple technology options and put them to work together to realize the vision.
In recent years, the role of Chief Digital Officer ( CDO ) has been established , especially in brand-focused companies. As a digital guru, the CDO is experienced in digital technologies and the intelligent use of such technologies to manage and build the brand through digital channels. On the other hand, the CDO needs to be well acquainted with change management and can drive the adoption of new technologies in the company for rapid response. Considering that most companies are global, international experience in this area is critical.
The CEA , Director of Enterprise Architecture , has become a key role in technology. At EA he is accused often sitting on an ivory tower. CEA’s “new” role eliminates the ivory tower syndrome by creating business awareness and bringing agility and pragmatism to the role. One of the main objectives of CEA is to understand the business vision and bring about change in a way that maximizes value and minimizes the associated “pain”. The CEA is responsible for developing a viable roadmap taking advantage of the technological heritage. At the same time, the CEA As a leader, you help people respond to change in an organized way.
Organizations can choose to keep existing IT roles , adopt new roles, or do both. What’s so special about a name? A rose is a rose regardless of the name. Regardless of the role title, the new genre of IT leadership will have to harness the power of technology and lead organizations through the fourth industrial revolution, seamlessly. Otherwise, for such organizations, the changing technology landscape will be one of quicksand.