The new strategic leadership role of IT: Feeling the pressure yet?

The new strategic leadership role of IT: Feeling the pressure yet?

The role of IT is changing. Not that all of you CIOs, CTOs or other IT leaders haven’t already noticed. From industry surveys to thought leadership insights, it appears we’re all in agreement: IT is taking on a strategic leadership role, shifting focus from traditional operational functions to corporate business challenges and how resolving issues can positively impact both organizational and financial success.

Windstream and Oxford Economics’ “The Path to Value in the Cloud: Strategy” report acknowledges this trend, citing IT leader involvement in “everything from high-level planning to procurement, integration and security.” From “The Strategic CIO” report by The Economist and sponsored by EMC, “CIOs increasingly serve as equal partners alongside their executive peers. About half of CIOs surveyed indicated their role is strategic as well as operational.”

The latest Computerworld Forecast Study says, “In 2015, IT will take on an increasingly important role growing revenue, profitability, enhancing competiveness and getting to know customers.” This study addresses several “IT Heads versus Non-Heads of IT” strategic areas. We’ve highlighted some of the primary areas below, indicating the increasing shift in IT leadership’s focus on strategically driving business forward in 2015:

Industry experts attribute this strategic movement to the rapid adoption of digital technologies such as mobile, analytics, social and cloud—and the critical importance these technologies have in shaping and enabling corporate strategies. As more functional areas move to the cloud, the overall role of IT and the way companies operate are changing, forcing line-of-business and technology executives to work together in new and more creative ways. Not only is cloud morphing the traditional model for business and IT, it’s altering the power structure within organizations.

These changes are also prompting IT leaders to secure a new role—strategic technology advisor. More than simply having oversight of IT infrastructure and technology build and operations, they’re evolving into a new breed of “line-of-business consultants.” Beyond understanding the technologies and applications that are reshaping business ecosystems, they must also understand how all of these systems and processes align and integrate with overall corporate strategies. In addition, with so much reliance on data, IT leaders now find themselves managing data as a corporate asset.

While most IT leaders are empowered to make final IT investment decisions, line-of-business leaders are getting savvy with technologies and searching for solutions as well. One study by CA Technologies reports 35% of IT spending is occurring outside of the IT Department—and this is expected to grow to 44% by 2017. IT must be diligent in driving technology adoption strategies while still offering flexibility, agility and responsiveness—working as an enabler rather than viewed as a barrier to meet demands for immediate solutions.

As higher expectations place increased demands on CIOs and IT leaders, it’s important to find trusted IT partners. We think you might find the Oracle Outsourcing Center’s “The CIO as a Chief Innovation Officer: How Cloud is Changing the CIO Role” helpful in doing just that. It provides an in-depth review of the CIO’s new role with tips for choosing the right managed cloud provider. We’re confident you’ll find our trusted Windstream advisors equally helpful. In fact, four out of five FORTUNE 500 companies choose Windstream for data, voice, network and cloud solutions.

We know that new pressures present strategic and operational challenges for IT every day, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. When you have the right service provider in place—one with experts who work with your team to design and implement solutions specifically for your business needs—you’re already on your way to driving strategy and success for your organization.

Editor’s note: – Kevin Farnham, Vice President Sales, Windstream Hosted Solutions will be addressing some aspects of this study during his presentation this week at Fusion 2015.

The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of WTN Media LLC.