The next big thing in C-level executives role
The role of C-level executives in IT has been expanding beyond traditional IT responsibilities. Nowadays, not only do they need to be able to lead their departments, but they also have to transform IT into a source of innovation by making the most of all of the opportunities that technology has to offer.
C-level executives must be more business-oriented and always ready to identify emerging opportunities, and quickly turn them into real benefits in order to achieve: a better customer experience, more users, and increased revenue.
And this is not the only noticeable shift in expectations: every C-level executive that works in the IT industry today has to have a good understanding of information technology. This is no longer just the domain of the CTO or the CIO – these responsibilities are now shared and intertwined.
So, let’s see just how the C-suite has changed, exactly.
The winds of change within C-suites
According to the 2021 State of the CIO report, C-level executives now spend much more time aligning IT projects with business goals (44%) and leading business innovation (34%) within the organisation. They are responsible for creating a digital backbone that will help their company accelerate the digital transformation, while simultaneously still being good leaders for their teams. As stated by Deloitte, the distinction between corporate strategy and technology strategy is blurring – so all executives need to be fully informed. However, the cognitive capabilities of human brains are limited and many companies have been turning to comprehensive technology platforms (equipped with artificial intelligence, analytics, and automation) in order to process large amounts of information and deal with complex challenges.
Focus on technology
C-suite executives should have a broad understanding of all the technologies that are critical to the success of their companies. This is important in terms of making investments, achieving and maintaining competitive advantage and building resilience against disruption. Leaders also need to be able to test and evaluate the solutions that are being implemented, challenge critical assumptions, draw relevant conclusions and make sure that new technologies are driving value for the enterprise.
Data is king: 40% of CEOs say that their CIO or tech leader will be the key driver of their business strategy – that’s more than is expected from the CFO, COO, and CMO combined (Deloitte). Incorporating big data into corporate strategies is crucial in terms of making quick and informed decisions and mitigating risks. Experts in this area will have to serve all the other departments and stakeholders, so that everyone has a full understanding of the current situation, as well as all the information required to take the right actions.
Customers at the core
Managers cannot afford to not focus on their customers. Adopting a client-centric approach forces C-level executives to constantly listen to what their customers have been trying to tell them – either directly or through certain behaviours. They should constantly question the user experience in order to make the most of it, and always stay one step ahead – both in terms of their clients’ needs and their competition’s next moves.
And this is tightly connected to having a data-driven decision-making process, since you need to have a huge volume of relevant information on your customers if you want to provide them with the solution that they look for now or one that they will want to use in the future.
New roles within the C-suite
The role of C-level IT executives has been constantly evolving, and the process only seems to be accelerating, along with shifts and changes in external environments. New customer requirements put pressure on companies and force them to become more innovative, incorporate new technologies, hire additional experts and create positions that were totally unnecessary only a few years ago but that are now must-haves.
Managers have to educate themselves and operate at the crossroads of business and technology in order to keep up with expectations. This is no longer a choice – it’s a necessity – for every organisation that wants to maintain its position in the market, or attempt to rank higher.