What qualities does an effective IT leader need to create lasting and dynamic change?
The experts on the Cloud stream panel at the recent CeBIT said that there are three qualities inherent in great IT leadership: Courage, tenacity and what Dawn Beadle, Director for Infrastructure Services for Monash University, diplomatically termed ‘diplomatic assertiveness.’ These traits are vital for IT leaders to find a workable solution, ensure that their idea inspires senior stakeholders, to challenge suppliers and to challenge their own teams.
‘Cloud [technology] is a tool in a wider toolbox. If your processes aren’t up to scratch then you aren’t going to get your outcome.’
One of the main themes to arise from the panel was that technology itself is never enough to ensure a successful outcome. While all three panelists were incredibly excited about the potential of the technology to be transformative, they all agreed that it was much more important that the technology support the business aims. Roy Shiladitya, Head of IT at ING Direct, suggested that ‘[cloud technology] isn’t going to give you results on its own. If you don’t know who you are and what you stand for, then you’re not going to derive value from it.’
Beadle contextualised this by stating, that what leaders need for technology to succeed is a change in approach. She noted, ‘cloud changes staff roles and it changes practices. You have to change your admin team into coders.’
The panellists also examined how this change needed to be implemented. Joe Rogalski, Director, Architecture and Process, Lion, found that communication was critical in getting senior stakeholders to understand and ultimately champion your vision. He said, ‘we found we needed to find a way to communicate the proposition to our stakeholders. Communicating at that level, can be quite challenging. You need to make sure that you’re communicating in a clear simple way.’ It is also important for IT leaders not to get too techy; it’s better to focus on how the technology will solve a problem or provide a return on investment.
If you can create positive change… then what?
If IT teams approach cloud implementation ‘as an organisational transformation project, rather than a technology project,’ as Beadle suggests, then the sky’s the limit. All panelists admitted that the agility and scalability of cloud played a part in helping them achieve their business outcomes; achieving speed to market, providing security and privacy of data (particularly important when you work in the banking and educational sectors) and to creating processes that are leaner. Cloud technology has the potential to transform your business, but you need a courageous, tenacious and diplomatically assertive leader at the helm.