Could the long-awaited tech “singularity” finally be upon us? That is, business leaders understand technology requirements, and technology executives are helping to lead the business?
Traditionally, chief executive officers have come up through the ranks from the finance, sales or marketing side, so they don’t necessary bring an in-depth understanding of technology deployments. Not was it necessary — the IT department ran its systems and spit out reports, while everyone else stuck to their specialties.
Now, everybody is getting into the technology act. A new study published by Deloitte finds that business executives — CEOs and CFOs — are getting directly involved in technology decisions. Maybe not studying and selecting application servers or hypervisors, but determining the technology direction that needs to be taken — whether it be moving to cloud, or deploying mobile to get closer to customers.
Close to two-thirds (62 percent) of 500 mid-market executives say their company’s C-suite leaders have “some” level of involvement in the adoption of next generation technologies such as cloud, social, analytics and mobile. In fact, nearly half (46 percent) say C-suite is “actively engaged.” A growing percentage (33 percent, compared with 20 percent in 2014) say their leadership is even “leading the charge.”
In fact, when asked who leads the adoption of new and emerging technologies, there’s almost an even split between business executives and IT executives. Twenty-six percent say business leaders are in charge, 36 percent say IT leaders are in charge, and 37 percent say it’s a combination of both business and IT leaders.
What are executives focusing on the most? Cloud and analytics are the major areas of consideration, the survey’s authors point out. Among the new technologies, analytics (47 percent) and cloud applications (43 percent) are seen as having the highest potential to produce the greatest productivity gains. Many mid-market companies are speeding up their adoption of these technologies. Analytics is now pervasive — 80 percent of executives say they use business analytics, compared to 65 percent who said the same last year. Cloud follows at 42 percent — up from 34 percent last year.
Is it a good thing to have business leaders getting intimately involved with technology decisions? There are two ways to look at it. First, here are three reasons to be concerned:
But there are a lot of positive aspects to business executives getting IT religion, and here are three reasons why this needs to be encouraged:
So, yes to CEOs, CFOs and business leadership becoming more involved in technology decisions, but with the backing and guidance of technology executives. Jeanne W. Ross and Peter Weill very aptly described the activist role CEOs need to play in increasingly digitized businesses in a Wall Street Journal article: “This doesn’t mean that top executives should review every IT investment proposal and decision,” they stated. “But it does mean that senior management must define how the company as a whole will do business in a digital economy. It means they must lead the IT initiatives that cut across all business lines. And it means they must resolve issues that local interests cannot resolve—like what data and processes will be standardized companywide.”
By Joe McKendrick via Forbes