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IT Has Finally Cracked the C-Suite

Robert Plant of the Harvard Business Review does not like the phrase “information technology”. Nor does he approve of its abbreviated form, IT. Plant believes that this label denotes a type of glass ceiling that keeps technology leaders, otherwise fit for the executive ranks, in the business of “fixing computers”. No longer adequate to represent the nature of the technology profession, Plant writes on how those two letters (I and T) are being remade.

March of the CIO

Perhaps prompted by the Great Recession, CIOs are now filling positions typical of business leaders. This, according to Plant, puts CIOs into two separate categories – those who are still stuck in the data center, and those who are driving value for their company. Furthering this trend, technology servicing is being moved increasingly to the cloud. As Plant puts it:

Freed from their service role and increasingly appreciated for their business knowledge, technologist executives are finally breaking down the walls that separated technology from the organization’s other functions. This new freedom will allow them to focus more on their role as enterprise architects, creating alignment between the organization’s technological and business processes in accordance with the company’s business model. They will also be able to focus more on providing governance leadership, ensuring…the effective and efficient use of information technology in enabling the organization to reach its goals. They’ll no longer be at the periphery, but will be fully integrated into the core strategic work of the firm, the business itself.

What’s in a Name?

As soon as Steve Peltzman of Forrester Research changed his title from CIO to CBTO (chief business technology officer) and his department name from IT to BT (business technology), he noticed a change in how his business valued both him and the operation.

Plant goes on to spotlight how other former CIOs are moving to the C-suite and redefining technology leadership. In the future, says Plant, we will forget about IT and it will make more sense to talk about BT –underscoring the ways in which technology has literally become the business of business.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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