It is only by hiring new generation IT talent and consciously trying to change the mindset that corporate IT can again be the coveted job that it once was
Even though business dependence on technology has grown manifold, somewhere the image of corporate IT has taken a beating. It is no more that awed function as it used to be at one time.
There are three primary reasons for this change.
First is the democratization of technology. One aspect of that democratization—consumerization of enterprise technology—is well discussed. Today, users are far more comfortable and confident about technology and demand what they want. The other, comparatively lesser discussed (at least outside the corporate) aspect of this democratization is the power-shift within enterprises. As more and more decisions on buying and deployment of tech solutions—point business applications, analytics, IoT, martech—get taken outside the IT department, many see it as waning of the power that the CIO once wielded within the enterprise.
The second reason behind the negative change in enterprise IT’s image is the perception that they have been fairly conservative—often opposing new ideas suggested by business users. While that may not be entirely untrue, it is too simplistic to blame them. The resistance by corporate IT did not originate in the department. It was a manifestation of resistance to change by the management to the old way of doing business. As gatekeepers of implementing those policies, corporate IT was often only the face of that “resistance to change”.
Finally, in a country like India, which is a global IT services and development hub, the IT industry offers a much better career opportunity to IT graduates than corporate IT. So, corporate IT has struggled to attract good talent. That is the cause of many of the issues.
In my opinion, it is the last challenge—the inability to attract good new generation talent—that should be tackled first. It is pretty clear that almost all enterprises are going to leverage technology to survive and compete. A corporate IT manager, by managing that strategic technology, will actually contribute directly to business growth and profitability. That is very different from writing some code for a sub module of a module of some software that a client sitting in Munich or Philadelphia may want to use (or not). The idea should be actively marketed to young graduates by the businesses and should be led by enterprise IT leaders. Denying the existence of a problem is not a solution
Secondly, it is important for new generation IT managers to realize that the value of a corporate executive comes from how much business value (s)he creates, not from the budget that (s)he controls. Otherwise, corporate purchase executives would be made the CEOs of companies!
The argument that involvement of business executives on tech purchase/implementation is making corporate redundant is essentially a faulty one. The more technology deployment becomes decentralized, the more is the need to integrate them to work seamlessly to really create business value. ‘Integration’ and enterprise architecture are already becoming sexy words again.
So are APIs. Creating and managing them is a task by itself. Now, guess who does the CEO turn to for that?
So, the enterprise IT manager role is not just becoming more valuable, it is becoming much sexier. This is the message that must go out. It is easy to look away from the actual challenge and blame all things such as pay package, location, career growth etc, but the fact remains that it is easy to attract this generation by just offering those, and not the excitement.
The leading CIOs of the industry should come together to take this up. There is a crying need to get the new generation technology workforce. That may be a bit of chicken and egg story but there’s no escaping. The two-speed model is one way to tackle that. The new talent can be attracted for taking up the high speed transformational roles. As their success stories spread, it will have its domino effect.
Once today’s enterprise IT leaders manage to get the best of new generation talent and keeps them engaged successfully, a lot of things will fall in place. This workforce will understand the needs of current generation much better; the rest of the enterprise workforce will easily identify with them.
It should be absolute priority.