IT leadership has the knowledge and motivation to positively impact their businesses in many functions beyond daily operations. At the same time, companies need to better utilize their IT leaders and their IT teams in order to change how communication evolves around the integration of IT within individual business units. These are a few of the key findings in a recent study by Red Hat.
In many ways, the study concluded, taking full advantage of IT leaders’ knowledge and abilities will allow companies to realize big changes that could make the difference in rising above their competition.
Communication Is Key
Lee Congdon, the CIO of Red Hat, explains that IT departments are top innovators, but they are often unable to cause substantial changes in how their businesses evolve. This can be attributed in great part to the lack of meaningful communication between IT and traditional line of business units.
This disconnect is not for a lack of desire among IT leaders. The majority of forward-thinking IT departments want to collaborate with fellow executives; they want to contribute to corporate improvements.
However, the study found that most IT leaders devote much of their time to IT maintenance and implementation of new software programs. Indeed, about 48 percent of those surveyed indicated that they spend the majority of their time on these two tasks.
The study polled 100 top IT executives at companies with more than 1,000 employees.
IT Leaders’ Vision
The study found a disconnect, however, between how leaders spend their time and how they want to spend their time.
The IT focus on daily operations lies directly in opposition to what many top leaders want to accomplish. They would prefer to dedicate more time to strategic business development that would set their business apart from their competitors. In addition, IT leaders indicated that, within the next five years, they aim to be more involved in developing a relationship between their department and the larger business strategy. IT leaders want to align their goals with company goals.
The reality that IT leaders face right now ultimately impedes their ability act on their visions.
Currently, they face a lack of financial resources and additional human resources. They encounter a perceived lack of respect and collaborative support from fellow business executives. Nine out of ten of those queried feel that they are not treated as equals by their fellow leaders; instead, they say, they are relegated to support roles outside that of business strategists.
Even among CIOs and other top IT executives, Red Hat’s study shows that only four percent think that IT has a leading role in creating innovations and developing their company as an industry leader.
Despite this lack of perceived equality by IT leaders, the majority still find that it is highly important to keep communication constant and open between other executives and themselves. They share that building this into their company’s practices would aid in achieving three of their most important objectives: differentiating from their competition, improving collaboration, and keeping business objectives aligned with their own.
In a rapidly changing business environment, IT leaders find that they and their personnel are an often-overlooked asset. They easily outstrip other execs in access to and expertise about the latest mobile, collaborative, and data analysis technology components. They see the opportunity to utilize this expertise to positively differentiate their companies from the competition.
Despite the gap that exists between the IT leaders and other business leaders, many CIOs remain optimistic that they can communicate the value of their vision to other execs and create buy-in.