Personality clashes threaten e-strategy

A personality clash between IT directors and e-business leaders is threatening to derail corporate e-business strategy, new...

A personality clash between IT directors and e-business leaders is threatening to derail corporate e-business strategy, new research has revealed.

Analysis of two separate pieces of research, both carried out by IDC, demonstrates a significant gap between the character and personality of IT directors and e-business leaders that could, potentially, get in the way of e-business goals.

Figures collated from two reports to be published this month show that when asked to describe their personality, fewer than one in five IT professionals characterise themselves as a risk-taker, compared with two out of three Internet executives.

The research showed that not only do IT directors appear to be more conservative but they tend to seek consensus rather than being individualistic, and more passive than aggressive, giving the overall sense of being "a safe pair of hands".

Commenting on the research, Richard Robinson, UK consulting director at IDC, said, "The traditional chief information officer (CIO) or IT director is more conservative, or risk averse, whereas the Internet executives tend to be more gung-ho, operating on the bleeding edge. They seem to be more willing to go against the company's political climate to drive an idea forward."

Two different types of characters are filling these roles. E-business executives have marketing, sales and new media backgrounds, despite the heavy technology base of e-business people, said Robinson.

Internet executives are also from a more aggressive, external, or customer-facing background, whereas the traditional IT role has been internally focused, he said.

"If you look at who is driving these initiatives forward, it tends not to be the IT function. CIOs have been a little slow at pushing forward into this type of role but [with their technology expertise] they should be totally suited to it," Robinson said. "Technology-specific people need to be more business-aware to be able to get their views known better."

Although e-business executives were expected to be agents of change, Robinson said it was the IT professionals who had to integrate and maintain those changes with existing systems.

"The challenge is to integrate the technology first and foremost but that has to be integrated into the business strategy. If it's driven forward by the business, it has to be underpinned by the technology which necessitates good communication between the two roles," he said.

Hazel Ward

hazel.ward@rbi.co.uk .

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