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Leading With Technology

5 Oct, 2015 By: Eric Stavola, MSCIS,MCSE,MCSA,N+,CDIA+

While working with business organizations nearly every day, I have realized two major constants over the last five years: 1) Many change procedures every 90 days (especially with people & processes); and 2)  There is never ending pressure for companies to do more with less (especially with technology).

Business organizations are beginning to closely examine what is really needed to create digital success. CEO’s and business owners alike are getting the message that “how a company leverages, implements and uses a basic overall strategy with technology” can become a key factor between profit and loss.

With all the talk of businesses needing to adapt to a connected world, Digital Leadership roles are rising. I believe over the next few years that these roles will be evolving as company executives learn what is required today in order to thrive in what market researcher Gartner is calling the “digital cultural revolution.”
According to Gartner:

·         Over 9% of CIOs have a chief digital officer (CDO) vs. 6.6% last year.

·         40% of CEOs have a senior leader with “digital” in the job title.

There is one question that I have been getting asked a lot by CEO’s and owners: “Just what should I look for in a good Technology Leader?” 

I came up with five key areas, which seems to surprise the C-level executives when I walk them through what their expectations “should be” in technology leadership roles today:

Leaders with Vision & Strategy:

Companies struggling today may have leadership in place but think Digital Leadership is solely managing the day to day systems and procuring new hardware or software when needed. More than ever companies need to look for technology steering. Taking a proactive approach in your technology and securing the leadership in place to manage it is one of the most important steps a company can invest in - from a time, personal, and financial standpoint. 
Once the plan is in place make sure all leadership has the discipline to follow or adapt based on business needs and challenges.

As some companies change things every 90 days, you want to ensure your technology leader is out front evangelizing and communicating the vision and purpose of these changes, both technically and culturally.

Business Acumen & Maturity:

Many technology leadership roles are morphing to include business leadership. One key reason for this is that with so many advances in technology and services there comes many changes in the actual process. Thus, effective IT leaders are relied upon to recommend, manage or streamline business processes with technology & key outsourced services.

Look for a Technology Leader with the maturity and security to know what to handle in house and what to outsource.

With SaaS and MSP offerings as cost effective services today, technology leaders need to understand the value of these services and know how to factor in their return on investment (ROI) and time.

Effective Communicator & Motivator:

Technology Leaders today are being challenged to lead and communicate in 3 key areas:

· Information & technology: Establish company benchmarks & objectives, and acknowledge results.

· Value: Align hardware and services to business strategy.

· People: Responsible ongoing training for sales, technical & design resources.


Foundational Technical Skills:

Too many executives hire technology leaders because “these people are very technical.” Saying that someone is technical in nature is so vague and ambiguous and leads to unrealistic expectations. I have many programmer friends who are very “technical” but would be lost managing a Network Infrastructure.

When hiring, look for a solid foundation of technical skills; don’t worry or get enamored with a highly specialized area. 

Certifications do count and are needed, but nothing takes the place of a good mix of overall network experience, and a formal college education as well.

Eric Stavola is IT certified with MSCIS, MCSE, MCSA, MCPS, N+, CDIA+ and is an executive IT consultant with a leading OEM. Contact him: (619) 455-2732 or stavola32@gmail.com

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