Calling tech leaders: Should you stay or should you go?

During Gartner’s recent Symposium event in Barcelona, CIOs heard the latest thinking from the analyst firm about where it sees the role of IT leader heading.

Each year, CIOs head to the Symposium events to network and hear from the analyst firm about its latest thinking on IT leadership.

Over the last two decades CIOs have been told to align IT more with the business.The dotcom boom and bust demonstrated that not every technology driven idea is necessarily a good idea. Generally speaking, technology-driven initiatives are only effective if a solid technology architecture is combined with a thorough change management programme.

Sometimes, in the past, CIOs were left out of the loop when enthusiastic non-IT people were tasked with running strategic ecommerce and social media platform initiatives. Such platforms later joined the mountain of technical debt the IT department is then tasked with managing.

There is always room to improve

More recently, companies have embarked on comprehensive digitisation programmes, to join up disconnected business processes. Every company CEO has probably looked enviously at Uber and AirBnB, and worried that someone, somewhere, will develop smart software, which puts a firecracker at the heart of their business value, and acts as an industry catalyst for change. And if they haven’t, business stakeholders should be worried. No company can remain unchanged; even a well-oiled business process has room for improvement.

Gartner has coined the term “TechQuilibrium” to describe the ability for an organisation to take on new technological advancements. “Not every industry needs to be digital in the same way or to the same extent,” says Gartner senior research vice president, Valentin Sribar. “CIOs should partner with their executive teams to design a value proposition that drives the right mix of traditional and digital business.”

CIOs are unlikely to be taken seriously if they start talking about “TechQuilibrium” but there is a conversation the CIO needs to have about how much of an appetite does the business have to adopt new technologies. And if the business is a slower adopter, where does that leave the CIO, who wants to drive technology change? To borrow a term from Gartner’s  Magic Quadrant, the TechQuilibrium appears to open up a “trough of disillusionment “in the career path of aspiring tech leaders. If the organisation is not a good fit, should you stay, or should you go?

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