Role of IT in Strengthening the Modern Industry
Changing Role of IT and CIOs
The role of IT is always evolving along with technology.
For example, some solutions that previously took three to 12 weeks to implement, can now go from purchase to deploy in just two weeks using new cloud capabilities. That kind of turn around was unheard of in the past. But I have no doubt that in the future, new technology will make us even more agile, as we build out the ability to go to market even faster and scale more quickly than ever before.
"We need to make sure IT has the skills and capabilities to support our organizations, and capture the opportunities facilitated by new technology"
On the operational side, new technology is making it possible to cut down on the number of support personnel we need by 75 percent – freeing up those people to move into innovation and strategy roles that allow us to continue disrupting the market with new offerings and capabilities.
Finally, we need to make sure IT has the skills and capabilities to support our organizations, and capture the opportunities facilitated by new technology. For instance, as cloud and mobile become a more significant part of our industry, we’ll need professionals who can work in the virtual stack along with the experts in developing and deploying security solutions in those environments.
IT’s New Role at Novitex
At Novitex, IT is a fully integrated partner to our business. We offer all the services necessary to develop and execute innovative solutions for our customers.
I firmly believe that in order to have this kind of full partnership with the business, we in IT need to develop a deep understanding of the company’s core business, as well as our clients’ businesses. When we do this, it lets us work together seamlessly, which ultimately allows us room to continually innovate and keep pace with this quickly developing market.
The Role of a CIO as an Ombudsman between IT and Business
Traditionally the CSO role dealt more with corporate and physical security, while the CIO dealt with running the IT organization. But today threats are much more likely to be related to information security vulnerabilities, so it makes sense for the CSO and CIO to work in very close partnership.
If I had a separate CSO I was working with, I would expect him or her to advise me on best practices and keep me informed about evolving risks, while I would be focused on giving direction to the IT teams that ultimately protect the data.
It’s extremely important for security to have a C-level seat at the table. You need someone in senior leadership that can push the envelope when it comes to improving productivity, connectivity and technological integrity within the organization.
Advice to Future CIOs
I believe the qualities and priorities that are most important for a CIO are mostly the same ones that are critical for any leader.
First, taking charge and leading from the front, but also empowering and trusting your direct reports, as they are doing the heavy lifting throughout the organization. Don’t be afraid to talk to your teams and make sure they understand your expectations and how their contributions ladder up to the organization’s goals.
You also have to prioritize understanding the dynamics and nuances of the business, as well as the needs of your clients, to inform the vision and strategy for your organization. In IT in particular, it’s critical to be innovative and open to new ideas, since it’s an ever-evolving environment. We need to be the technology evangelists with insight about what we need for the business.
Finally, you need to be willing to reevaluate how well you’re doing throughout the process. I have an open door policy and am always looking for feedback from my staff. I also have an ongoing dialogue with the CEO and COO at Novitex so that I can understand their expectations and needs, since IT has a direct impact on the business strategy. All of these pieces come together to allow you to be decisive and accountable in your role, and ultimately do what’s right for the business.