The Technology Leader: Changing Role

By Atul Nigam, CIO, Micromax Informatics

A ligning IT objectives with Business Objectives? This is the most farcical and clichéd statement ever given. People who believe in it are either doomed or heading towards it.

In my view, the existence of IT is solely to support the business. IT having their own objectives? What agenda will they serve? The people in the organization vow to work in the direction given in the Mission & Vision statement hence there can be nothing which is not aligned.

The Role of a Technology leader is evolving and challenging. But how is a technology leader perceived as? As a strategist? An Infrastructure Head? An Application Head? A Digital Officer? A Data Officer? A Security Officer? An IT Operations Head? Let’s look at them one by one in the context of our Indian environment.

A strategist needs to understand each and every business unit & their goals within the organization so that a role of an enabler can be played by bringing in new ideas with technology. Is this opportunity available, if yes, what do we make of it? Are we involved in critical decision making process? Or only come to know when it needs to get executed?

As an Infrastructure Head, the genesis of Advent and adoption of the cloud ensures that there is no necessity to have a big team. One needs to understand the changing realm of Infrastructure & keep up with the pace of change. The only negative is the growth of “Shadow IT” which is a different kind of a threat never thought of.

As an application Head, the expectations of businesses have changed with the advent of SaaS. Even today, at least 40% of projects fail due to changing business requirements or selection of wrong application/tool.

Being a Digital Officer, everyone is talking about going “Digital”. Is the CMO a CDO? I feel, in most of the Organizations, Yes. I have read many articles that CMO has a bigger budget than technology.

As a Data Officer, the ever-increasing use of big data analytics, machine learning” & “artificial intelligence is forcing the entire organization to take that direction. I feel this is ostensibly what is taught to our country with the arrival of E-Commerce/M-Commerce. Does the organization really need it or need it now? It is not something you do just because it is a fashion or under the peer pressure & not strategically submerged into the organizational goals.

A Security Officer…Most of the urban population is becoming “Cyber Savvy”, the millennials forcing the current technology leaders (Gen X) to open-up, leading to a dilemma with ever increasing “Cybersecurity threats”. Often you hear that Security is a Board level issue hence the person handling Security needs to be a part of the Board. How many are? Do boards really discuss “Cyber Security”? Unless a big incident strikes the organization.

An IT Operations Head… most appropriate!!! Isn’t it? How many Service tickets resolved? How much time does a Technology leader spends on Operations? 80%? Right... Due to this reason, I have used the term “Technology Leader” & not a “CIO” or an “IT Head”. The line between them is too thin in an Indian context.

So, what is the role of a Technology Leader? All the above or some of the above? There can’t be one answer as it depends on the organization & its culture. Whether a Technology leader gets a seat in the Board & or be called an “Enabler”… depends on the organization? A traditional pipeline organization considers R&D, Sales, Marketing and Service as utmost important. But at the same time, does Technology get the same importance? Isn’t technology still perceived to be overhead? One must realize that technology is pertinent & pervasive.

No Conclusion. Like all the debates on TV & all the meetings, we have in the Organization.

We all must agree that the times are changing & we need to change & strive to keep ourselves up-to-date with the changing environment. Let’s do whatever best we can to take our respective organizations to next level in whichever way we can…

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