2 May

How Digital Technology is Changing the Role of IT Leaders

Posted by John Brandwagt

With advanced digital technology becoming more and more accessible to the layman, the role of IT leaders will see some drastic changes over the next few years. With the rise of social media, business mobility, cloud computing, and data mining causing disruptions in existing company models and patterns of employment, questions about the role of IT leaders will come to the forefront of business. Are they going to continue to be innovators in digital transformation, or will they be dismissed to work in the background of infrastructure?

A Change in Strategy

Questions surrounding IT are increasingly more important as a larger number of companies opt for chief digital officers (or CDS) from outside of information technology to be leaders within their tech departments. For too long, IT leaders have held the belief that their know-how in tech makes their skills unique and therefore irreplaceable—but that is no longer the case. Tech knowledge is more widely available than it was 20 years ago, and many of those in upper management have both business skills and technological prowess. This leads us to a point where the role of corporate IT could either succeed or fail, depending on the strategies used moving forward.

Tech Leaders Need to Become Business Leaders

The time of specialized knowledge is over; in order to adapt with their changing role in digital technology, IT leaders need to become business leaders, too. Too often CIOs are stuck in the role of technologist instead of leading the digital revolution, and don’t take part in board meetings or have much input on important company activities. Becoming an integral part of this important conversation will allow for IT leaders to keep their role as innovators and make a greater impact on where their company is headed.

Earning the C-Level

It feels good to be chief. However, with the recent changes in the role of IT leaders, earning a c-level executive role in technology means doing more and being more than ever before. CIOs have a reputation of being a bit prickly towards their team—with their left-brain taking precedence in the way they run their department. To adapt with oncoming changes, CIOs must reanalyze this position in their company.

Building trust and being reliable are huge parts in managing a team properly and being an effective leader. While c-level IT execs don’t want to be the person that everyone runs to when their computer is running a bit slowly, it can’t hurt to put forth a more accessible attitude towards those working under them. Leadership takes more than just a fancy title—it’s about respect, consistency, and delivering on assignments.

Integrate Customer Service

One of the biggest changes in digital technology is the need to develop a customer service ethic alongside tech aptitude. Today, IT is all about giving users the know-how to make informed decisions about the technology they want, and coaching them on the best ways to get there. IT leaders need to keep up with this shift, investing in an IT service desk and having a team of tech experts with a dedicated service ethic.


The bottom life for tech leaders is that they need to develop a strategy to adapt to oncoming changes. While the total death of the CIO isn’t likely to happen any time soon, it’s going to become necessary to manoeuvre through changes by developing the mentality of a delegate. Taking initiative and becoming a part of new digital strategies will ensure that IT leaders keep up with the changing pace of tech.

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Topics: IT Leaders

John Brandwagt

John is a Practice Leader at Inteqna. He’s been working in IT Search in Calgary since 1997. He works best with selective job seekers—those who excel at what they do and enjoy their current jobs. Since they don’t have time to look for themselves, he helps them find their dream jobs. From a client perspective, he helps organizations find the talent that will propel their business. John is involved in several of Calgary’s technical user groups and has held board roles in non-profit groups. He is a single dad of four boys who try to beat him at every physical activity from hiking to rugby.

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