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IT has a brand problem. It has lost trust with its customers — from C-suite stakeholders to individual contributors — who have come to associate IT with bottlenecks, frustration, constraints, and cost overruns. In fact, if IT were a consumer brand, it would have been discontinued years ago.
Perhaps worst of all, the persistent separation of the IT function as a far-off, siloed corner of the company where decisions around technology are made perpetuates outdated ideas about the role of technology in an organization. This limits the reach of technology, and it sets up a false dichotomy between IT and the business.
For so many organizations today, technology is the business. Technology needs to be understood as a critical enabler in every part of the organization from the front line to the back office. It creates new value by crunching data to deliver new insights, it spurs innovation, and it disrupts traditional business models.
Senior executives from both technology and business silos are the only ones who can help their companies shift this mindset. These leaders are the ones who most clearly understand the direction in which their organizations are headed and the important role that technology will play along the way.
For business and technology leaders alike, new actions and behavioral changes can help their organizations make this shift.
How Visionary Leaders Bridge the Gap Between Technology and Business
I’ve been lucky enough to work with several visionary tech leaders — people who have inspired their companies to see beyond the IT label and change the way they work with technology. They are a rare breed: If they sang in bands, I’d have their posters on my wall.
These rock stars tend to have several things in common. First, they don’t hide out on a separate floor or building designated for IT. They walk the halls, and they engage with internal and external customers. They may have workspaces in different locations so that they can also embed themselves with their teams, but they know that the best way to keep stuff from being thrown over the wall is to remove the wall.
These leaders also encourage their teams to follow in their example of cross-collaboration — something that is rarer than it should be.