Your business is evolving. Employees work on the go using their own devices. You manage several applications in the cloud, and as-a-service platforms play a starring role in daily workflows. The question is, do you have the right technology people to drive success in a digitally disrupted business environment?
Evaluate the Potential in Technology Leaders
Recently, Deloitte released a survey underscoring the role of technology executives as agents of change. According to respondents, almost half of IT leaders drive technology adoption activities in their organizations. Historically, IT leaders managed a limited technology infrastructure and ensured its functionality over time. Today, IT leaders play increasingly strategic roles.
Digitalization has disrupted almost every aspect of business, from customer data management to production lines. The future promises even more automation and increasingly data-driven business activities. IT leaders play a key role in a business’s ability to remain competitive in a technologically driven economy. From creating employee usage policies to minimizing security vulnerabilities, IT professionals and technology people play a proactive and strategic role in business.
Are All Tech Execs Created Equal?
In today’s world, two C-suite structures could look completely different. Aside from the traditional leaders, including chief executive officers and chief financial officers, the executive arrangements vary from organization to organization. In the technology space alone, an organization might employ a chief data officer (CDO), a chief digital officer (CDO – confusing, isn’t it?), a chief information officer (CIO), a chief technology officer (CTO), or a combination of any of them. Not to mention new positions like data privacy officer (DPO) or chief artificial intelligence officer (CAIO).
Some hold responsibility for all IT decisions from security to device usage policies, while others focus their expertise on managing the customer experience or on customer acquisition and deployment management. In some models, a chief data officer might actually report to the chief information officer.
Ultimately, every business needs to consider its strategic goals and the leadership skills that will fuel success over time. The title is just a title. The role, on the other hand, can make or break the company’s race to digital maturity.
Structure the C-Suite to Fit Your Needs
To find the right people for the job, companies may need to take a step back from the traditional management structure. In a brave new world, continuing down a path of routine hiring decisions will only yield diminishing returns. You need to invest in the people who can drive change at both a cultural and technological level. Follow these steps to identify business needs and make hiring decisions.
Evaluate the Status Quo
Consider the current technology structure. Who makes decisions? Your answer may include department heads and team leaders who do not report to technology officers at all. Think about every aspect of technology the organization currently uses. From managing vendor relationships to training end users, identify the leaders in charge of these activities. Are they the best people for the job? Can they continue to manage the activity, along with their other job duties, even as technology changes? If the answers are no, or if there is no leader overseeing an important function, it could be time to fill that gap.
Explore Your Long-term Goals
Do not hire a new executive based on current needs alone. Any tech leader needs to demonstrate a vision for the future that aligns with your company’s culture and goals. Specifically, think about what you envision for your company in the next five years. Do you want to maintain current business practices or break the mold with cloud migrations, better customer data handling, and a greater focus on user experience? If so, you need executives that can keep pace.
Pinpoint the Right Skill Sets
Associated skills for your next c-suite executives may include a background in engineering, prior experience in a functional tech role, and access to a demonstrable network of tech-savvy professionals. After all, one of the hallmarks of a great leader is his or her ability to tap into additional, high-quality talent. Determine the specific skills you’ll need to achieve your company’s short- and long-term technology goals.
Be Flexible in the Roles You Create
Depending on your needs, you may need to hire more than one executive to match the skill sets you need. In large companies, in particular, a group of tech leaders who collaborate may deliver better and more structured results than a traditional management structure. For example, if you process large volumes of data, a chief analytics officer may focus on all data acquisition, management, and handling activities. A chief digital officer, on the other hand, may spend his or her days building out infrastructure to strengthen digital maturity. Each role requires executive leadership, but prevents a single executive from holding too much responsibility.
Recruit the Best Technology People
Finding the right leadership structure is only half the battle. When you create a clear concept for the role, vet candidates with the hard skills you expect but hire based on a candidate’s soft skills. Technology leaders who know how to motivate employees and enact enterprise-wide change will serve any company well. In addition to using executive recruiting firms, market the role and the benefits of working with your company via social media and traditional outreach channels.
Support Your Leaders
High-quality executive technology people will hit the ground running and never look back. Support great leaders with resources, a competitive benefits package, and an inspiring workplace, and you’ll achieve more each year. After all, I still believe human capital is the most powerful technological asset in which a company can invest.
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