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The Changing Role of IT: 5 Things Every CIO Must Know (and Respond To)

From the experts | Posted on July 2, 2013 by Francis Li

In the world of IT, ten years feels like a few lifetimes.

Just think …

A decade ago, you needed a huge capital investment and a team of professionals to buy, install and manage software. Today, low-cost SaaS and high-bandwidth Internet allow you to receive most business technologies through the cloud.

Ten years ago, employees used corporate-issued devices for work. However, with consumer technology evolving faster than business technology, employees now want to use their favourite consumer devices at work. In fact, 50% of workers reported that their employer’s technology tools are critical in their decisions whether or not to work for a company.

Plus, remember all those kids who were entering high school or university ten years ago? They’re now becoming managers in Fortune 500 companies and will soon run the joints! And these millennials don’t remember what it was like before technology allowed them to access anything at any time from any device.

As these forces drive the IT revolution, here are five things you must do as a senior IT leader to stay relevant.

1. Embrace the IT revolution
Christian Gheorghe, founder and CEO of Tidemark, believes that many CIOs fail to take part in the IT revolution and instead rely on aging products that he refers to as “technological dictators”. According to Gheorghe, “In a clear expression of the current regime’s brutality, IT shops spend anywhere from a whopping 50 to 80 percent of their resources maintaining the status quo” as opposed to innovating and developing new capabilities.

Doing things the old way will keep you behind your competitors, make your IT more complex and limit your ability to grow your business. CIOs must embrace new technology to streamline IT and deliver greater business value.

2. Support unified communications, cloud and BYOD
Today’s employees need to work from anywhere and on any device. To best support your mobile and global workforce, you must embrace technologies and trends such as cloud, unified communications and BYOD. Every IT shop needs to map out strategies for these technologies.

3. Understand how your users influence IT spending
Many of today’s users are tech-savvy and have strong opinions on what tools they need to best perform their jobs. As their influence grows, more technology purchases will go through a line-of-business department as opposed to IT. A recent study has shown that more than 50% of North American mobile purchases are budgeted by a line-of-business manager. Involved users will also hold IT accountable for its purchases. If you spend a lot on something your users don’t like, you’ll hear about it!

4. Determine how the cloud impacts your budget
Infrastructure, licensing and software were traditionally hosted on-premises and treated as capital expenses, but using the cloud changes your budgeting. You must decide how much of your IT budget will go towards capital expenses versus operating expenses.

5. Bring IT to the leadership table
As more departments become active technology stakeholders, you need to align IT with the business. Take a place at the leadership table to help solve organizational problems, so the C-suite sees IT as an asset rather than a cost center.

You’re not the only game in town
IT is no longer a “power broker” that provisions technology to users but a “service provider” that empowers customers through technology. Recognize that your customers have a choice when it comes to what technology they use and where they get it. If you don’t give them a choice, they will look elsewhere or go behind your back – which may compromise your network and data. However, when you open the lines of communication, customers will come to you with ideas on how to innovate, which will help you drive maximum business value.

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