The role of technology strategist is introduced as a necessary link between the business decisions of senior management and the tools to support them.
- [Instructor] I closed the last chapter by talking about sharing the big picture. There are two roles in your IT department that live and breathe that big picture. They're the Network Administrator, and the IT Strategist. You probably don't have anyone in your organization with the job title of IT Strategist, but I guarantee that you have someone doing that job. This is the person that decides what technology is needed, and how it will be used to support the company's mission.
In some companies, this role is being filled by someone who knows a great deal about the mission and strategy of the company, but possibly very little about IT. Forgive me for being pointed, but two out of three may not be good enough. It's usually not a deliberate move to exclude knowledgable professionals, yet most often occurs when senior management, to streamline the organization, falls back on making strategic decisions for IT at the president or CEO level.
If the top of the food chain defines in a vacuum of technical expertise what's going to be created, when, and the budget, they will find that they're leaving the people who know something about the technology to only work out how. And that's a recipe for discontent, if not failure. A better model would be to bring more complete information to the table. This happens when you take someone knowledgable about the available technology, as well as the capabilities of the current IT staff and contractors, and include them in the leadership discussions.
The IT Strategist may not be the network administrator, or even someone that's involved in the day to day tasks of the IT department, but they need to be up to speed on current and emerging technologies. They also need to be someone who has the respect of the IT department by virtue of their own technical savvy. They will be involved in conversations where the administrators and technicians talk about what's exciting and new in their world. They know the reality of what can be done, and what's going to require a few more resources.
A good IT Strategist will be able to balance that knowledge with a healthy dose of optimism. They need to be someone who believes in and can communicate that given the right resources they can create greatness. Companies that are large enough to have a CIO are already enjoying the benefits of this level of participation. Smaller organizations will have to decide whether the network administrator is right for this responsibility. If not, a professional development plan should be put in place to bring them along.
If that isn't the right fit for your organization, it's possible to bundle this role with another job title. In addition to having the previously mentioned characteristics, this person will need to be held responsible for the success and challenges of the IT department. I've worked in companies where the IT department fell under the umbrellas of accounting, facilities, and even the marketing departments. These among others can be made to work if the leader of the parent department has the necessary skill, knowledge, and responsibility.
As I mentioned before, every company has an IT Strategist. It could evolve naturally as just one more thing that the CEO has to worry about. But to get the most out of this role, it needs to be deliberately assigned with all the accompanying responsibilities.
- Including IT in strategy
- What does IT bring to strategy?
- Communicating the big picture
- Selecting and evaluating the effectiveness of training and development activities
- Choosing the right hardware, platforms, and applications
- Who owns the devices?
- Site planning
- External and internal connectivity