IT Organizations Need New Leaders

A few months ago I discussed the shift from the Technology Defined Enterprise to the Services Defined Enterprise. It’s a topic that appears to have struck a chord among customers and industry peers. Many say it isn’t an “if” but a “when.” For some, that when is today! Business users and customers, especially millennials, are clamoring for software-as-a-service (SaaS), cloud services, enterprise consumerization, and anywhere, anytime, any device access and connectivity to information. Who is going to provide that for them? Traditional IT organizations are focused on past and present technologies while the business desperately needs future or potential technologies. The question facing many organizations today is “What will the IT leaders of the new Services Defined Enterprise look like?”

IT organizations are evolving and adapting to customer needs by focusing on providing services that deliver value on demand in much the same way those business users experience their consumer lives. For IT organizations, this represents a huge shift from the traditional focus on delivering technology to support and drive organizations. The old paradigm was all about technology and “speeds and feeds” – the Technology Defined Enterprise. The new paradigm is all about achieving business and customer-centric goals – the Services Defined Enterprise.

Past, present and potential
The pace of change is more dramatic than ever and, to be sure, IT leaders have a big juggling act today. IT is responsible for managing the proven set of technologies from the past, including virtualization, storage arrays, and computing and networking hardware and software. IT is also responsible for selecting and managing an array of new disruptive technologies in the present, including cloud computing, big data analytics and telepresence. Increasingly, IT is finding itself ultimately responsible for emerging or potential technologies such as self service, BYOD, hybrid IT and cloud and advanced automation.

To do this requires IT to become more efficient and nimble – keeping an eye on past, present and potential technology. IT organizations must use savings derived from past and present technologies to fund emerging technologies – like applying the savings from outsourced managed services toward a new mobile application for customers.

Today IT organizations find themselves spending 60 to 80 percent of their budgets on “past” category operations. They need to decrease this so they can move forward and focus on innovation and agility. The balancing of the two dimensions of Technology Defined and Services Defined represent the key transformation for how IT moves the business forward.

Power shift
As the relationship between IT and business continues to change we have seen a not-so-subtle power shift. Line of business (LOB) managers are exerting increasing power over technology spending in their organizations. In fact, for a great many IT initiatives, LOB managers no longer need to go through IT in order to approve or obtain the services they desire. What was traditionally known as an IT-oriented set of systems and processes or infrastructure is now a business- or customer-oriented set of services. The power of those services, increasingly delivered via the cloud and mobile devices, to disrupt and innovate is real. This is a concern for traditional IT organizations that requires new strategies and new leadership skills.

The IT leader of the future
Enterprises are not slowing down, just the opposite, and IT is still a key innovator required to enable business growth and reduce time-to-market for new innovations. As a result there needs to be a new kind of IT leader who can act as the linchpin between business requirements and technology capabilities, between services capabilities and the myriad services and solution providers who deliver these to the organization.

This new type of IT leader and IT staff will need skills in areas that are very different than traditional IT functions. The new IT leaders will need to become services brokers for their organizations, not simply the lenses for assessing technology solutions.

The new IT leaders must focus outside for IT services, rather than inside. They will be managing a portfolio of services for their organizations, many of which will live off premises and come from multiple vendors. Additionally, they will be responsible for making all of these past, present and potential technologies blend together to the benefit of their organizations.

The CIOs and IT leaders of the future may not come from traditional technology backgrounds at all. The way they think must be built around a new set of principles. They must focus on delivering the best 360-degree user experience (UX). They must deliver service, value and differentiation, not just speeds and feeds. Traditional key performance indicators (KPIs) like uptime and IT productivity will still be there, but so will new measurements like increased business agility, improved customer UX and time to innovation.

Welcome to the future.