Business leaders have called for IT managers to become "technology translators" who can understand the latest technological developments and educate colleagues as to their business potential.
Research by management development specialist Impact, collated from in-depth interviews with chief executives from 18 leading blue-chip companies, found that CEOs are unanimous in the view that the single most important issue facing their organisations is their ability to achieve a rate of change in the application of new technology that their competitors cannot match.
With senior staff becoming increasingly confident in the use of IT, the CEOs believe that IT chiefs will spend less time managing information and driving IT-led change. Instead, they will be occupied with communicating the impact and business benefits of technology.
David Rippon, IT director of Land Securities and incoming chairman of the Effective Leadership in IT forum of the British Computer Society, said there are no surprises in the research. "IT directors have always looked to see how technology changes can help make the business run better," he said.
"What is new is the recognition from business leaders that this role is important. As the rate of change in IT increases, so IT becomes increasingly important."
Chris Wise, European technology manager for Xerox, agreed, "Technology has to have a commercial point. My job is to liaise between the two. IT execs should understand not only the technology but its impact.
"When adopting a new technology, it is important to have an idea of what is at the end of the trail. It is important to understand what you are implementing now, but also to understand where it will end," Wise added.
This was first published in October 2000