Everyone says IT should engage more with the business, and there is truth in that statement. However, if we’re honest, IT has probably put in more effort engaging with the business than the business has put into engaging with IT.
More specifically, C-level executives have not taken ownership of IT as they have other business functions. No CEO with under-performing sales ever says “I leave that to my VP because I don’t understand all that deal pipeline stuff.” Nor do CEOs typically avoid an active role in finance or supply chain management because the subtleties of those disciplines are “too technical.” Yet CEOs constantly make such disclaimers about IT. That has to end. IT is simply too strategic for CEOs to wait for IT to come to them.
So, in the interest of more IT-Responsible CEO-ing, here are three failings I believe are especially symptomatic of inadequate executive leadership of IT:
Failing #1: Favoring Buzzword Deliverables over Operational Excellence
CEOs often seem to think that IT leadership simply means pushing for deliverables like big data analytics or cool mobile apps. Good CEOs, however, don’t just ask departments for outcomes. They also exercise leadership by uncovering performance issues and resolving them with smart management.
The same principle holds true for IT. Instead of merely asking IT for specific deliverables, CEOs should evaluate how IT is operationally managing all deliverables collectively. After all, IT can best meet the demands of the business for specific deliverables if it achieves operational excellence in key areas such as DevOps, service management, and portfolio rationalization.
Failing #2: Ignoring Emerging Digital Workplace Issues
One particular IT-business intersection that many CEOs fail to adequately consider is the digital workplace. Millennials have high expectations about the digital resources that will be at their disposal. IT is generally not prepared to fulfill these expectations. Without appropriate C-level leadership, this disparity between user expectations and IT capabilities becomes a tug-of-war that neither side can win.
CEOs would therefore be well-advised to focus some reasonable amount of attention on operationally excellent management of the digital workspace. Such excellence boosts business productivity, supports talent retention, safeguards compliance, enhances customer engagement, and improves IT efficiency. Those are not outcomes that should be left in the hands of IT decision-makers alone.
Failing #3: Not Talking to RES
RES spends a lot of time talking to IT. We love IT. IT people understand how our automation, digital service store, and other capabilities can make their lives easier and enable them to better meet the needs of the business.
IT, however, will always be one step removed from those business needs. IT isn’t HR, compliance, sales, finance or marketing. And CIOs are not CEOs, COOs, or CFOs. It’s all of these piece combined that determine the digital needs of any organization. That’s why those executives need to understand how we can help them better manage their digital workspace—and reap the associated business benefits.
So if you’re a CEO, you should definitely talk to us. It may actually be your responsibility to do so!