A major theme of the IT Directors Forum on board the Oriana last week was that IT directors and CIOs should be a dominant force driving change within their organisations.
Tony Preston, business systems director at the Legal Services Commission, said the key to business change was having experts who understood the current way of doing things. This was the basis for moving forwards to new business processes.
“The key is encouraging close ties between technology and business people at the middle and junior levels – that will push change upwards through the business,” he said.
Tim Gregory, Wiltshire County Council’s head of ICT, said, “It is frequently the IT director who is going to drive change in the organisation. The board then has to provide that leadership and direction across the organisation or the change will not be delivered.”
Owen Williams, partner and head of IT at global property firm Knight Frank, said, “The key challenge of becoming a strategic change leader is being seen as understanding the business rather than being seen as the bloke who does the technology.
“You have to be calculating about who the key decision makers are in your organisation and present yourself to them appropriately.”
Some IT directors felt they should support, rather than dictate the direction and pace of change.
John Shepherd, Gloucestershire Police’s head of information systems warned that there was a danger of IT chiefs trying to usurp the role of the CEO. “My remit is to deliver against my chief constable’s plan for what he wants to achieve for the business as a whole. We should use technology in support of the business, rather than changing the direction of the business itself,” he said.
Christine Ashton, chief information manager for strategy and integration, at oil company BP said there was considerable benefit in IT leaders focusing on improving existing business processes and then trying to align IT to a change agenda.