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April 25, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:20am

5 ways IT leadership is changing

The CIO is dead. Long live the CIO!

By Joe Curtis

IT leadership today is a far cry from a decade ago – even five years ago. But while CIOs and IT professionals are being asked to do far more under the same job titles they’ve always had, a lot of these demands are implicit, not explicit.

CBR looks at exactly what’s expected today, and how it differs from the past.

IT must drive the business

Traditionally, IT has been responsible for maintaining the ICT infrastructure, being called in when things go wrong. Not anymore.

Today the business wants more of the IT budget to be spent on new technologies, so the CIO and his team must cut maintenance costs in order to spend more on innovation.

Reporting to the CEO

With businesses keen to divert more IT spend to new technologies such as cloud, mobile and social, it stands to reason they want more control over it, too.

A CA Technologies survey recently found that 45% of British businesses make decisions over IT spend outside of the CIO’s office.

But that doesn’t mean CIOs don’t have any influence anymore.

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Indeed, instead of reporting to the CFO, 89% told CA they have the ear of the chief executive these days.

Failing is succeeding

As part of driving innovation, IT can’t be afraid to fail. In fact, IT pros must embrace failing. It removes the fear factor of not succeeding with every project, and that means IT will be happier taking on more risky, ambitious projects that could deliver great business benefits.

CIOs must communicate this to the chief exec and make sure there is a supportive atmosphere in which to experiment.

Teams are getting smaller

As IT infrastructure is outsourced more and more, a CIO’s team grows gradually smaller, because there is simply less need for skilled engineers inside an organisation.

That means CIOs and IT pros need to be more than just technicians: they need to be seen as proactive enablers who can explain to other departments how new technologies like cloud can make their lives easier.

Making technology easy to understand and relevant to others is the best way to excel.

Be on top of the latest security issues

The Heartbleed bug took everybody by surprise. While it’s forgivable to not have known about it, it’s a different matter if a CIO hasn’t already prompted his or her company to change employee passwords.

If a cyber security company breaks the news about a massive new hack, IT needs to respond quickly to mitigate the threat to the business.

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