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The era of IT-as-a-roadblock must come to an end right now

IT must stop being a passive observer and really deliver what the business needs.

By Naked CIO July 1, 2015, 6:55 AM PST

A recent article on TechRepublic asked the question “Does anyone still want to be CIO?” Among other things it highlighted the growing trend of tech savvy people (or at least people who believe they are tech savvy) occupying other C-level positions, and makes the arguement that technically-oriented IT leadership is dead, which I do agree with.

However, this does not mean the CIO or for that matter IT leadership in general is destined for the same demise.

As other leaders are growing more aware of technology in the digital age, it is my belief that CIOs need to also invest, immerse in and speak the language of marketing, operations and finance. It is through this cross-pollination of competing skills and professions that an IT leader can have the most impact.

We talk business alignment and business driven priorities but in my experience IT leaders fail at truly understanding these needs and requirements. It is that old order taker-mentality: to some extent not only is there a failure to understand, it appears in many cases it is by design.

Our success is tied to, or should be tied, to delivering more value than a CMO or a COO could by both intimately understanding the problem and the traversing the technology.

If we want to be passive observers of our organizational priorities and marginalize ourselves then we have no right to complain about why we are not given our due share of respect at the executive table.

This attitude both confounds me and infuriates me. Bad leaders shift accountability to others and in so doing also dilute their power base. Good leaders take charge and take on innovation and creativity as a badge to wear everywhere.

We do not have enough good leaders, we do not have enough CIO trend setters that will take a chance for the sake of their business and the sake of themselves and it is ruining it for the rest of us.

If you see a leader or are managed by one that justifies IT-as-a-roadblock by way of process or methodology and promotes the “that isn’t our job mentality” than say something because these leaders are from a bygone era and have no place in modern organizations.

We need to think strategically, act tactically, drive methodically and think technically. If we do this we will provide more value than any other C-level position because we understand what needs to be done, can demonstrate the courage to do it and the experience to do it technically right.

In my view CIOs, if they act properly and integrate themselves within other business disciplines, can easily become the next CEO – not the next doorman.

The Naked CIO is an anonymous technology executive.

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