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The Four Roles of the New IT Leader

When the talkies emerged to replace the silent film era, the actors of silent film had to adapt their style to fit the new landscape. CIOs are on the cusp of having to face this same challenge as IT transforms in ways that would have been difficult to imagine perhaps even a decade ago. Charles Araujo writes in an article that CIOs will be called upon to fulfill four new roles as the future approaches:

  1. Trend spotter
  2. Negotiator and mediator
  3. Information weaver
  4. Business process innovator

As a trend spotter, the CIO will have to monitor the flow of new technologies and potential threats, working as both an opportunist and a risk manager to determine what innovations will be useful to the company in a way that does not leave the company unexpectedly vulnerable. As much as eighty percent of IT assets are anticipated to live outside the walls of the business going into the future, and as such, IT leaders will have to become expert negotiators and mediators. They will need to be able to manage an interconnected web of beneficial relationships across a wide space for the good of the company, as well as be able to mediate as those various relationships evolve over time. Dealing with so much information spread out in isolated physical spaces presents risks in itself, and for that, Araujo has to say:

This will create the third key role for the new IT leader: Information Weaver. The IT leader of next-generation IT organizations will be adept at identifying those key data elements and ensuring that they are intricately and dynamically woven together to deliver strategic and competitive advantages to the organization. Using the previously described negotiation and mediation skills, you must build deep relationships and an intimate understanding of the business processes leveraging the organization’s data assets to excel in this role. Your success or failure in being able to harvest and weave those data elements into a mosaic of meaningful and actionable information will likely be reflected in the ultimate success or failure of the entire organization.

The final role of business process innovator is arguably the most important role of all. Araujo states that technology innovation will not be coming from IT in the future but from the technology companies themselves, and so it will be the IT leader’s mission to find innovative methods by which to use that existing and emerging technology. This will be instrumental in distinguishing the value of one IT department over another one. Just as the silent film actors had to tone down their use of physical gestures to embrace the more natural tone of the talkies, future IT leaders will need to let go of their idea of IT as a self-contained world and embrace the roles that will allow them to make IT a globalized affair.

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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