IT leadership faces new pressure in late 2013

Here are a few ways that the role of the office leader has evolved, and what the transition means for the man or woman running the IT show.

As the global economy pushes into late 2013, businesses are doing everything they can to get a leg up on the competition and close out the calendar year legitimately. The interesting thing about modern business is that we’ve progressed as a society to a point where it’s not about what technology is present within a business, but rather how it’s deployed and utilized.

 Most competitive businesses have ingredients like fiber optic internet, state of the art batch processing software and even BYOD options. It’s not a question anymore to wonder whether a market leader has refreshed their technology, but instead it boils down to how that company gets creative with those devices, systems and applications.

This situation, while admittedly a touch obvious, has a ripple effect. One area specifically impacted involves information technology, particularly IT departments within businesses. Back in the 1990s and very early 2000s, the IT department of a business was isolated. The unit was called to fix things like phone lines, network connections or computer software. These are the roots of the IT industry, and while they are still planted deeply in a tech department’s responsibility, the roles of both the profession and the employees within that profession have diversified to the point of a revolution.

More is expected of IT right now, and the IT manager or CIO handles the brunt of that responsibility. Below are a few ways that the role of the office leader has evolved, and what the transition means for the man or woman running the IT show.

Business strategy analytics

Many businesses that are thriving in the modern marketplace have increased the way that the IT department influences and interacts with front line business strategy. For instance, rather than having an IT department sit back and wait for something to break down within the company’s technology, the tech employees are actively involved with day-to-day business strategies. Whether it’s sitting in on meetings or actively engaging with other departments, it’s happening.

This is a larger responsibility for the manager because they are required to be multidisciplinary in their approach. It’s common nowadays for an IT manager to be in on executive meetings, discussing things like how data processing is affecting product delivery at the beginning of the week. The reason is that with customer demands at an all-time high, it’s no longer adequate to get the package to a client’s door. It needs to get there quickly, and be tracked in real time over the internet the whole way.

The demand for effectively used technology is what separates the modern economy from the recent past. IT managers must have an analytical mindset, and be willing to integrate it into his or her everyday routine. This directly influences the way that every member of an IT team impacts a business model. This helps businesses compete and get traction in a slippery economy.

Multidimensional employee organization

As IT managers find their department more involved vertically and horizontally within a business model, the inherent need to reorganize employees comes to light. In the recent past, IT departments seemed to have an employee base based around unrelated roles and personalities. The systems administrator would do his work and the data modeler would do her work. The system was that simple. This one-track focus isn’t sufficient anymore as the competition demands that a company moves forward as one, interchanging its parts to ride the current wave.

IT managers have to not only hire employees with a diverse skillset, but organize their teams in a way that allows for immediate transition throughout a company depending on current need.

Make no doubt about it; this is a positive transition for the IT industry. Very positive. The minds and talents that are housed in IT departments around the world are unbelievable. Increased involvement beyond routine data and communication maintenance is good for everyone, including the employees. Everyone wants to contribute, and that’s the situation that many in the profession find themselves in right now. If they don’t, they probably will soon.

Our world is a swirling sphere of people, ideas and developments. Our international economy has literally ballooned to all corners of the planet, and it’s largely due to technological advancements never imagined 20 or 30 years ago. For IT departments, this isn’t the end, but the beginning. More capable technology will always need human oversight to meet maximum efficiency, and that’s just a given based on the fact that our market is operated and wavered by human activity. IT leadership is at the forefront of this transformation.

Adam Kinsey writes for Silicus, a software outsourcing company.