How to Give IT Credibility in the C-suite

In an article for InformationWeek, Keith Fowlkes finds that IT professionals are often treated like plumbers. Indeed, they are very highly skilled and needed in any business, but their jobs are thought to surround utility and maintenance in the basement rather than “get the real work done” business. This mindset is no longer be acceptable. Fowlkes says that a CIO, director, or other IT professional can move themselves from the utility role to the strategic role in the C-suite, and it starts with a change in how technology leaders view their job.

Think outside the Box

Historically speaking, there are legitimate reasons why IT people are often viewed so stereotypically. For a long time, they were working literally in the basement of an organization where computers, utilities, and technological device were kept. They hardly moved “above the ground” unless they were summoned for a workstation, much like a plumber coming to fix a pipe. Technology professionals could see themselves as highly skilled “engineers” or “programmers” of the utility. This utility-minded approach easily makes them complacent with their job and their position in the organization, as well as blindfold others from seeing their potential as a crucial part of the C-suite.

As organizational roles evolve, organizational mindsets and culture need to evolve as well. CIOs and technology leaders nowadays no longer think only in terms of IT and technology-related matters, but they often adopt a business lens and tend to align their work with a business perspective to fulfill business objectives. The ultimate goal is to drive the business and use IT to create a competitive advantage. As such, technology people should think more strategically and less technically to truly get themselves out there and prove why they deserve a seat in the C-suite.

Fowlkes says that IT professionals need to ask questions when performing their job, such as these: “How do I assess return on investment (ROI) in my technology operation?” “How do I listen to the challenges of other departments in your organization and frame them in my priorities for technology solutions?” “How effectively is your operation directing the technology buying needs in your organization?”

It takes real, long-term commitment to business challenges and a sincere focus on partnerships and relationships that will be the key to your success.  But, having a grasp and understanding of the deeper aspects of what strategic advantages technology can provide to your organization and helping communicate and translate them in a way that your colleagues can understand will build your credibility among them.  This will eventually help them see you as a business partner with helpful ideas and not just the plumber who keeps the water running.

You can view the original article here:

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